November 2020

Sanitized for your protection

Cognitive Disinfectant

Remember when everyone was up in arms about the antibiotic-resistant bacteria crisis, and we all needed to stop using antibacterial products right now? Corona-chan really kicked the pins out from under that campaign. Now it seems like everywhere you go, assuming you’re allowed out, there’s a hand-sanitizer station every 20 feet, and every public surface is being wiped down dozens of times each day with strong disinfectants.

True Lies Matter

On the off chance Trump beats the margin of fraud, I’d like to remind everyone in the “punch a nazi” crowd that A) you’re not very good at nazi-identification, B) the ‘nazi’ gets to punch back in self-defense, or shoot if your attack is serious enough, C) you’ll be the one facing felony charges, D) if you go out in force to protest the election results, 10USC331 could make those charges federal, which means no catch-and-release by the local po-po, and E) that felony conviction may stop you from voting or owning guns.

Software update not found

Turns out Dremel’s software is based on Cura 2.7, and the current version is 4.7. Settings extracted from the various resource directories don’t quite work as-is, due to substantial changes over the past three years. Cura silently ignores non-compliant materials and settings files, so a bit of trial-and-error will be necessary. I was able to import the basic printer definition by changing two lines, but not the materials or quality settings.

I’m honestly surprised this hasn’t been done by someone yet. It’s not hard, just tedious, and there will likely be times that the features in the newer software will be useful. I haven’t found anything wrong with the current version, but 3 years is a long time in this sort of software.

On the plus side, getting direct network access to the Dremel’s status and video without using their app is refreshingly easy:

# retrieve status as JSON
curl -d GETPRINTERSTATUS $IPADDR/command | jq .

# watch the video in any browser or VLC

Looks like you can also upload files and start print jobs through this API, too. Downside: so can anyone else on your network. Not a problem for me, fortunately.

On a whim, I installed Slic3r to try it out, but when I launched it, the embedded Perl interpreter started grinding on my CPU. I couldn’t decide if it was mining cryptocurrency, encrypting my hard drive, or just bad code. The latest 1.3.1-dev release started up instantly, which is suggestive. As a true open-source project, it comes with a completely empty printer and materials library, making it more of a lifestyle than a tool.

I searched Pixiv for a nice 3D-created illustration to insert here, but the ones that weren’t loli porn were bondage porn, so here’s a perfectly innocent picture from Genshin Impact.

Not much of a cheese shop, then, is it?

The Internet Archive has implemented “fact checks” and “context” for The Wayback Machine. They now confirm that the chocolate ration has been increased to 20 grams/week.

3D Kleenex

Disease with no Cura

I experimented a bit with Meshmixer to optimize the orientation and supports for a model before slicing and printing with Dremel’s software. Pro: it was easy to remove the tree-style supports it generated. Con: the surface quality was no better for all the extra work involved, and actually required a bit more sanding to be usable.

So I tried the current version of Cura (which has a bewildering array of tree-support options) with the machine definition copied from Dremel’s older version and the built-in generic filament and quality definitions. The print took just as long as with the Dremel software, but practically crumbled in my hand. All the small parts could be snapped off with very light pressure, and the main body’s 20% infill wasn’t enough to survive squeezing between thumb and forefinger. Definitely need to import the Dremel-specific filament and quality settings before I try that again.

Then I tried to decipher the UI for Autodesk Fusion 360, which honestly looks like it was designed to sell training classes. Also, it has a fairly short list of available machine, material, and quality profiles, so I’d have to enter everything by hand for my printer. Yeah, no. If I can manage to figure out how to use it before the mouse bindings drive me to throw a laptop out a window, I’ll try designing a part and exporting to Dremel’s software. It also really, really wants to keep everything in their cloud, which you have to manage from a real browser; it took me a good five minutes to figure out how to completely delete one accidental upload.

Then I took a brief look at FreeCAD, where instead of having their own UI paradigm, they simply emulate everyone else’s and allow you to pick one. Or more. Initial impression: the 2D tools make Illustrator look like the easiest-to-learn drawing software in the world; I didn’t get to the 3D tools. I did like the Bézier curve visualization, though.

CorelCAD is a full-featured 2D/3D package, and for $700 it ought to be. In prehistoric times I found CorelDRAW a lot easier to learn than Illustrator and used it a lot, but then they had a very, very buggy major release that drove me away, and I never looked back. They have free trials of all their software, and a subscription model for some of them, but the very first question on their FAQ page is:

“How do I turn off popup ads in CorelDRAW?”

’nuf said.

Video killed by radio star

The Dremel’s camera went offline during one of my prints, and since nothing was listening on the port, obviously the software had crashed on the printer. There’s nothing checking for this and restarting it, so the only way to get the feed back is to power-cycle, which had to wait until I was done sending test prints for the day. The printer still printed, and the status API kept reporting correctly, so it was no big deal. Their app doesn’t really know what to do when there’s no video feed, but it still functions.

By the way, extracting the Busybox image from the latest firmware update and running strings on the binaries revealed a few additional commands in the API: GETJOBSTATUS, CANCEL, PAUSE, RESUME, NOZZLEHEAT, PLATEHEAT, STOPNOZZLEHEAT, STOPPLATEHEAT; I have no need to try most of those out. A quick tcpdump while I was driving it from the GUI showed the two-part command to print across the network: you upload the file by POSTing to /print_file_uploads with name, filename, and data fields, then POST PRINT=filename to /command (and then spam it with GETPRINTERSTATUS every few seconds, at least if you’re Dremel’s software).

Update: unofficial official GCODE/API manual

So, if I ever get another slicer that generates good code for this device, I won’t have to walk the gcode over to the printer on a thumb drive, through the snow, uphill both ways. That will matter more once I move it upstairs into my office, because while it’s not loud, it is audible, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to turn off the built-in lighting. Closing the office door will make lengthy overnight prints less intrusive.

…unless I ever have a houseguest again, because the guest bedroom is right next to the office.

…unless the guest is my sister, who stubbornly insists that my couch provides a much better sleeping experience. Honestly, if I ever win the lottery and build my dream house, her room will just have a sectional sofa, large-screen TV, and a bookshelf. And excellent wifi coverage. Maybe its own kitchen. Oh, what the hell, just make it a studio apartment without a bed.

Little Monsters

If it ever becomes possible to play tabletop games in person again, mz4250’s extremely large set of free miniatures will be useful. The detailing on some of them is nice enough to scale up for decoration, and it’s not just the complete set of D&D monsters and an ever-increasing set of module-specific characters. There are other genres, as well as disturbing nightmare creations.

No Magic Bullet

I think I’ve gone down enough software rat-holes for now. Back to just coding up shapes in OpenSCAD and printing them with the supplied software and its “old-fashioned” support structures.

Republic, Bananas

To vote in person in California, as I just did, you must not only surrender the ballot that was mailed to you on the sole authority of the governor rather than by any law, but also the empty return envelope that came with it. No voter ID, though; that’s crazy talk.

Important reminder...

Remember: it ain’t over until the body-positive female-identifying person expresses themself vocally.


I just had to delete and re-add my Gmail account to Apple’s, because they were arguing so fiercely about moving a single message between IMAP mailboxes that my fans spun up to full speed and stayed there for well over an hour.

Decision Desk 2020

If your election stays up for more than four days, consult Rio Teramoto.

As for the ongoing clusterfuck that is the US presidential election, Larry Correia weighs in.

Speaking of security…

In the nearly-there Big Sur release of MacOS, Apple won’t allow third-party software to even see the network traffic from their applications and services, much less block it. If, for instance, you’re on an expensive or slow wifi connection, and iCloud or Software Update decides to slurp up all your bandwidth, well-known tools like Little Snitch, TripMode, and even your VPN software won’t know about it.

I haven’t seen anyone mention tcpdump or Wireshark yet.


Adjacent articles on Slashdot:

I guess Android’s too old to run Netflix now? 😁

Social Distance, With Meat

Yesterday, one of my co-workers mentioned that he might miss the morning meeting because the construction on his street was so annoying that he was going to drive down to his parents’ house in Salinas to work. Spotting this, I suggested lunch. Proving that I’d picked the right group to work with, he suggested The Meatery’s deli.

His parents live at the south end of Salinas, so it was a lot closer for him than for me, but c’mon, with a name like Meatery, of course I’m going.

They’re primarily a butcher shop and have no indoor seating, and of course Covid, so we parked our cars side-by-side and ate outdoors in the sunshine.

Next time, we’ll have to pick something closer to my house, but next time I’m in Seaside, I’ll definitely eat there again.

“​…where the dead vote early and often”

If you don’t want to be accused of shenanigans, don’t do things that look like shenanigans. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Also, don’t spend four years actively engaged in obvious shenanigans and then accuse your target of being paranoid.

Me, too

Fair is fair

I think the amount of time Trump gets to contest this election should be no more than the Democrats took contesting the last one: four years.


We have always been at war with Eastasia

We didn’t start the fire

Democrats: : we will heal the divide in our nation.

Also Democrats: : we’re making a list of collaborators, and they will be dealt with.

Dear Donald J Trump,

Until January 20, I think your priorities should be:

  1. appointing judges,

  2. signing executive orders,

  3. declassifying everything.

Not necessarily in that order.

Let your legal team handle both the apparent shenanigans and the confirmed ones.

“When did it stop?”

Which reminds me, for all the folks who simultaneously insist that Trump (and before him W) stole an election while there wasn’t even a hint of fraud in the elections of Democrats, when did election fraud go away?

We know it used to exist in America. Lots of it. At all levels. We know it still exists all over the world, everywhere that there’s even a chance at scoring cash or power by bending, breaking, or shooting holes in the rules. We still remember when Democrats were shouting from the rooftops that Diebold voting machines would deliver phony Republican victories.

But it’s all gone now. Never happens. Certainly never in enough numbers to sway a major election.

When did it stop? How was it stopped? How do we confirm that it hasn’t started up again? How do we ensure that it doesn’t go undetected?

The answer is to do a lot of things that Democrats are violently opposed to, like auditing the voter rolls every year, requiring ID to vote, requiring ID to register to vote, cross-referencing registrations between all states, openly and transparently auditing the results, etc. Funny old world.

Speaking of voter ID, we’re told that potentially millions of citizens would be disenfranchised by an ID requirement at the polls. Yet the people making this argument aren’t willing to help them get IDs.

After all, these millions of citizens without ID are unable to get a job, buy liquor, enter a courthouse, rent a car, open a bank account, board a plane, start a business, take out a loan, etc, etc, etc. People opposed to voter ID are somehow fine leaving them out of the rest of society, as long as they can vote.

Runicorn Chaser

With a stage name like Yume Miru, you know she’s got some persuasive arguments…


Clown Fusion

One good reason not to use the free-for-makers Fusion 360 is that exporting your design to STL requires saving it as a cloud project and then rendering it in the cloud. Which takes several minutes even on simple models.

“The Cloud is Mother, the Cloud is Father.”

(and I’m not even designing in it, just using the customization options from someone else’s design, the ABLE System connectors, created by a user with no Thingiverse profile whose only video doesn’t show up as uploaded by the user who owns it, who doesn’t seem to have any other archive or discussion of his work, by anyone, anywhere…)

This, by the way, looks like a better solution for a tinkertoy takadai than the Jonction-P system I mentioned earlier, largely because that one is incompatible with my monorail design for koma. I’ll just have to redo it in OpenSCAD to scale it to different square-dowel sizes, and then add a few custom parts.

The key feature of both is that they print at an angle both for strength and to eliminate any bridging that would require supports.

🎶 Monorail, monorail, monorail 🎶

“It glides as softly as a cloud” on a half-inch square dowel, and required no trimming or sanding. Printed with PLA at 0.2mm layer height and 20% infill, it’s quite sturdy, even the half-pins at the end that are 1.65mm thick. I’d give it some light sanding before trying out a fiber like silk, but I mostly prefer yarn anyway.

A takadai built around these koma would be roughly 18x18 inches, and capable of pretty much any standard single or double-layer braid. It would be able to take full-size bobbins (no more crowded than a Braidershand extended takadai), although not necessarily five pounds of them per arm. 😁

Fingers, Pointing

I’m going to predict that if it is proven that even one state was illegitimately flipped from T to B, even by a series of completely innocent mistakes, The Narrative will immediately switch from

“Trump’s making it all up”


“Trump’s behind it all.”

The incantation “Reichstag Fire” will be invoked.

Amazon Time Travel

Hey, remember that thing I bought one of?

Let’s order another one…whu?


This did not go well. Now I know what the “build plate adhesion” checkbox is good for.

(Update: I started a simpler print job and watched it fail to lay down the first layer consistently, so I stripped all the glue off the bed, laid on two new layers, and went through the manual leveling process again. Looks a lot healthier now)

Unicorn Chaser, Fillyment Edition

To be clear, I’m not claiming she’s responsible for my filament snarl. I’d forgive her instantly…

It takes a village without a constable

Most of the whistleblowers, eyewitnesses, videos, and actual indictments alleging widespread election fraud do not point to a sinister secret cabal of mustache-twirling villains. They point to a bunch of little people, secure in the belief that when their side wins, there will be no consequences, even if they get caught.

Hopefully they’re wrong. That “social worker” who thought it was a great idea to vote 67 extra times in the names of her patients? Now facing 134 counts of election fraud. In Texas.

Was there also a larger, more organized fraud, the sort that results in thousands of late-arriving ballots with nothing on them but a vote for Biden? That allegation is before the courts, where it belongs. As are others.


🎶 “All in all, it’s just another glitch in the Fall”…

Music to hashtag by...

Dear Apple,

Why did you create a playlist named “####!####”, containing all of my songs?

Dear Benny Hill,

I apologize to your memory for visualizing Joe Biden careening across the country to the tune of Yakety Sax, chased by an ever-growing pack of Leftists who just figured out that they were taken for a ride.

Dev Branches Matter

I am not yet in charge of the in-house Github environment at work, which is good, because the upgraded version includes the change where the default branch in new projects is now “main” instead of “master”, which will ripple through everyone’s automation.

Hopefully Microsoft refactored their code to accommodate future changes to the language more quickly.

Philadelphia Freedom

“Oh, come on, the last time they caught someone stuffing ballot boxes in South Philly was all the way back in (checks notes) March, and it was only one elected official taking bribes from a former US Congressman on behalf of his clients. Move On, Trumptard, you’re paranoid!”

“Speed, Groove, speed is your salvation.”

When I started downloading the new 4GB Genshin Impact update on my iPad Mini, it looked like it was going to take a very, very long time. After ten minutes, it was at 0.3%. Then I suddenly noticed that I couldn’t surf the web on my Mac, and looked down to see the update coming in at 15 MB/s or higher. Done now!

Tried a free 10x gatcha pull on the new all-girl offering. Got ten duplicate weapons.

Let me explain:

  1. you need a total of five copies of a weapon to refine it to its highest quality.

  2. you get weapon drops constantly while adventuring.

  3. only one of my characters does not have a fully-refined weapon, and that one’s pretty darn rare.

  4. there is no point to keeping “extra” weapons around to swap onto your characters.

  5. ~90% of gatcha drops are weapons.

  6. I will never pay for a gatcha pull that is completely, utterly worthless.

  7. which means I will never pay for a gatcha pull.

  8. which kind of undermines their monetization scheme.

On the bright side, you can now mark specific weapons as “locked” so you don’t accidentally recycle them into upgrades while cleaning your inventory.

Note: it is canon that Fischl is simply bonkers. Her chūnibyō-induced delusions seem to tie into the main character’s backstory, but I don’t think they’ve explained where she got it all from.

Natural Gaslighting is a renewable resource

Wait, I think I missed a space in there…

Good advice, Hillary!

“​…should not concede under any circumstances because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually I do believe he will win if we don’t give an inch, and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is”

Oh, wait, you meant the other guy.

“For everything else, there’s MasterCard”

I Speak Gcode To My Dremel

#!/usr/bin/env bash
# Send a print job to a network-connected Dremel 3D45 printer.
# Or with no arguments, report its current status and
# remaining print time.
# dependencies: curl, jq



if [ -z "$1" ]; then
  # just report printer status and exit
    jq -r '[.progress,.remaining,.status,.jobname]|@csv' | tr -d '"' |
    awk -F, '{
      s = $2;
      h = int(s/3600);
      s -= h * 3600;
      m = int(s/60);
      s -= m * 60;
      printf("%.1f%% %2d:%02d:%02d %-8s %s\n", $1, h, m, s, $3, $4)
  exit 0

if [ ! -f "$file" ]; then
  echo "$0: file '$file' not found"
  exit 1

status=$(curl -s -d GETPRINTERSTATUS $COMMAND | jq -r .status)
if [ "$status" != "ready" ]; then
  echo "Printer $IPADDR not ready, status '$status'"
  exit 1
echo "Printer ready"

message=$(curl -s -F "print_file=@$file" $UPLOAD | jq -r .message)
if [ "$message" != "success" ]; then
  echo "Upload of $file failed, message '$message'"
  exit 1
echo "$file uploaded"

message=$(curl -s -d "PRINT=$(basename $file)" $COMMAND | jq -r .message)
if [ "$message" != "success" ]; then
  echo "Unable to print $file, message '$message'"
  exit 1
echo "$file printing"

exit 0

By the way, I printed a full-sized ABLE corner connector, just to have a model to work with for designing smaller connectors in OpenSCAD. It’s a really well-thought-out system, but the fundamental problem is that making his sample table would require five days of continuous printing and more than an entire spool of filament. Ugly metal connectors at Home Depot are faster, cheaper, sturdier, and paintable.

For the tinkertoy-takadai, I’ve decided to simplify and just use 3D-printed T connectors so I’ve got wood against wood, with the plastic keeping things aligned. I can actually just replace the pins on top of my monorail koma design with an open cube to form the T; I know this prints quickly and cheaply (although I’ll do these at 100% infill for strength).

While those are printing, I’m going to lay out the arms on the floor to set the width, calculate the minimum required height from that, and the rest of the numbers fall out of the design I did three years ago. If I’m ambitious on Saturday, I could have it ready for a test braid.

“We’re gonna need a Bigger Bird”

Unconscious Minecraft

Microsoft’s 2020 “Hour Of Code” considered harmful. By anyone sane:

…the accompanying Educator Guide suggests opening the 45-minute coding lesson (using Blocks or Python) with a 10-minute discussion of unconscious and conscious bias, including “prejudice based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, gender identity, physical ability, religion, and body weight.”

So, 45 minutes isn’t an “hour”, and 10 of those are wasted on deranged Leftist pap. Why not just call it “35 Minutes Of Instantly-Forgotten Pre-Digested Code Templates”? The teachers already have scripts for the propaganda, and will eagerly spend more than 10 minutes on it.


"I work for Tim Cook! Tim Cook!"

"He's the number one guy at OCSP. OCSP runs the Macs. You're a... Mac!"

"Yes, I am a Mac." (disconnects from Internet)

Always scratch a monkey mount

I spent three hours this morning petting a cat. No regrets.

(Porch Cat destructively ordered breakfast early, and since it was cold and foggy out, I sat down on the stairs and petted him for a few minutes before completing the trip to the front porch and loading him up with dry food and meat sticks. Twenty minutes later, he was scratching on the back door again, and the leftover food out front said he wasn’t still hungry, so I sat on the stairs to pet him for a while. He promptly fell asleep, so I carried him over to the couch and let him nap on my chest until he wanted out. Which was 2.5 hours later. Some people would say I have a cat; I can’t understand why)

(there’s very little AsoIku fan-art on Pixiv, and even less of the minor characters; this was the only recognizable Antonia I found)

“Well, fuck me silly, that worked the first time.”

While designing a fully-parametric set of connectors for my tinkertoy-takadai, I decided to add screw/nail/pin holes and angled supports. The supports are simple right triangles that were easily implemented with a series of if/else statements, but trying to reuse that code to create holes on any face that didn’t have a support was lumpy spaghetti with no sauce.

So I tore it out completely and wrote a little matrix:

pipes = [ up, down, left, right, near, far ];
all_faces = [
  [ 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, V_UP,    ORIENT_Z ],
  [ 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, V_DOWN,  ORIENT_ZNEG ],
  [ 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, V_LEFT,  ORIENT_XNEG ],
  [ 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, V_RIGHT, ORIENT_X ],
  [ 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, V_NEAR,  ORIENT_YNEG ],
  [ 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, V_FAR,   ORIENT_Y ]

A dual loop from 0-5 tests each side of the central cube for the presence of a pipe, and if it doesn’t have one, rotates to it and makes a hole in the wall. If it does have one, it checks each adjacent side. If that side doesn’t have a pipe, it translates into the pipe, rotates to face that side, and makes a hole in the wall. Yes, I’m punching holes in faces.

The new code worked, first time. And now I can reuse it to create both the supports and the actual pipes, eliminating about 80% of the original code.

Burning Bridges

I finally got curious to see just how large an unsupported span the Dremel could bridge without me having to get fiddly with temperatures and print speeds. With PLA, the answer seems to be “at least two inches, so stop wasting plastic on supports”:


Getting behind on games

I immediately recognized this as Sucrose. Genshin Impact really builds up your skills…

Upcycling versus epicycling


Next weekend there will be a Zoom gathering for folks who bought the baby takadai, to share tips and show off their braids. I’ve only made three braids so far, because I got caught up in epicycles of projects on how to improve it, including of course the full tinkertoy-takadai project.

So I decided to just strip off the tape, glue it together firmly, and start braiding with the new koma I made two weeks ago. Then I found myself staring at an empty filament spool…

Okay, now I’ve got a firmly-glued frame with an extended take-up spool, so I can make braids an inch wider than before, and approximately 90 feet long!

(and, yes, I could have printed a more practical spool at the same time I made the stand, but this one will be a lot more amusing to show off on Saturday…)

Black Ducks Matter

I know, I know, why wasn’t this the first thing I made on the 3D printer? Because I didn’t stumble across the model until yesterday, of course.

I need to try it again at higher resolution, in a more appropriate filament color. Or else buy new mini paints; the old ones are all dried up now.

Minkowski means never having to say your CPU is too fast

After I finished printing the new filament-spool makitori-bō, I grabbed something simple to try, namely a strain-reducer for masks. It included OpenSCAD source for precise sizing, so I opened it up. And waited. A lot. As I watched, the 38-line file chewed up more and more of my CPU and memory without even displaying a cheap preview.

Because for no good reason I can see, he implemented the shape with minkowski(). I left it running for a few minutes, and the only change when I got back was that it had passed 2GB of in-use memory with nothing to show for it.

Dear Apple,

When you’re through figuring out why your new releasebeta OS is bricking customer laptops, could you maybe explain how the brand new Time Machine full backup I made on my NAS “does not support the required capabilities” for an incremental backup. I ask because after the last Catalina security update, my USB Time Machine backup drive won’t even mount successfully…

Little, Plastic

Brought To You By Apple,…

“Where QA is for the little people, and by that we mean paying customers.”

3D roundup

Made a more realistically-sized take-up reel for the baby takadai, to replace the entertaining-but-cumbersome filament spool. Belatedly remembered that bridges need two ends, and printed separate top and bottom pieces instead of a mess of spaghetti. More precisely, I halted the print before it started printing the spaghetti, and then made a snap-on top piece. 😁

Printed a Pokemon Go aiming device. Not because I have any great interest in running around Maskifornia catching mons, but just because I need to open the game up occasionally now that you can transfer them directly to Home (and in many cases, to Sword/Shield), and I might as well catch a few while I’m there. I liked the way this one was customizable, so I could enter the specific measurements for my phone and case. I did not like the fact that the creator has never heard of curves, so I had to sand the sharp corners.

On that note, I also printed sanding sticks. Cute little things, complete with printed screws.

I also printed a set of TUSH, a very popular design for an open filament spool holder that uses common skateboard/inline bearings, which I had enough of. This came in quite handy when the first attempt to print the sanding sticks failed completely due to lack of filament. This is the spool of ECO-ABS that came with the printer, and about halfway through it was miswound. I had to unreel about 8 feet of it to find the overlap, then wind it back on and feed it back into the machine. The spool of red PLA that I used up completely didn’t have this problem, so I’m 1 for 2.

I did not download and print this girl. She’s clearly expensive and high-maintenance. Also high-poly. Clever idea for the glasses, though.

Still a ways to go, though…

PU/steel wire kind of sucks

One of the things that made the baby takadai kits a bit complicated for many of the buyers was that each one came with a small spool of some exotic plastic-coated fiber. I got a pretty thin polyurethane over an even thinner steel core, and I’m very glad I didn’t try to use it first, as had been suggested. I did a little sanding with emery boards to make sure mine was smooth enough not to snag yarn/string, then made a few test braids.

Since it was so thin, I figured I’d use two strands per bobbin, and started tying it into a loop with my usual fisherman’s bend to attach it to the leader cords. It snapped. After several tries, I learned just how much I could tighten the half-hitches so they’d hold without breaking when I pulled the knot tight.

Then I started winding them onto the bobbins, and my fingers quickly reminded me that I was working with a loop of thin wire, as it dug in and abraded the skin.

Actually braiding with it was a real pain in the ass because, again, wire, so it was stiff as I worked the sword through to open the shed, and then held all the kinks I introduced in that process. I was ready to quit after about four inches of braid, but I settled for swearing to never touch the stuff again and give it away at the first opportunity. As soon as I’m done, I’ll take a picture and switch to something that better shows off the potential of my new koma and take-up reel. (which may not get finished in time, but as long as I can get some good pictures showing things you can’t do with the stock parts, I’m good)

Classical Reference

Yeah, get back to me when you have data...

User: “Hey, my SQL queries are timing out on the replica!”

J: “Hmmm, that error says they’re so slow that the master is trying to clean up all the rows that have changed since it started running.”

U: “Can we try it on the primary?”

J: “No, because 1) Production, and 2) error is specific to replicas.”

U: (CCs Partner)

Partner: “Our service that queries your DB, sends the results over a VPN tunnel, and ingests them into our system is working fine, and doesn’t show any delays or network issues.”

J: “That’s what you said last time, and the problem ‘just went away’ the next night.”

P: “Try running this specific query locally and tell me how it works.”

J: (examines 450-line SQL query, shrugs, runs it) “2.5 minutes.”

P: “Hmm, works here with ‘limit 10000’ and fails with ‘limit 50000’. Well, nothing we can do on our end! Shall I set up a call with our Engineering team?”

J: “Wait, what was the runtime for that query on your end before it started timing out this week? For that matter, what was the runtime when it worked with ‘limit 10000’?”


P: “Here’s a chart showing it bang-on at almost that exact same runtime for weeks, until it started timing out every single time on Friday night.”

J: “Okay, let us know when you’ve fixed that. Just for fun, try changing the query to just return the count of rows instead of the ~36 MB of data. I, um, have a hunch.”


U: “9.6 seconds.”

J: “So, you can successfully submit obnoxious queries through Partner’s interface, as long as they don’t return any significant quantity of data. Hmmm, what does that sound like?”


(long meeting full of fingerpointing with no indication of how it started failing 100% of the time like throwing a switch)

J: “I have finally managed to reproduce the failure locally, which means I’m willing to try a small config-file change to work around the problem. Reminder: we still have no hint as to the actual cause.”

[you are here]

Kinky parts

Cool! No, wait…

I only check the catchall mailbox for my domain about once a month, because it’s almost entirely spam sent to randomly generated addresses. As I’ve mentioned a few times, a fair amount of it is in Japanese.

Checking it last night, it seems I’ve started getting weekly newsletters from a kinky church in Japan. Wait. Stop. I meant a church in Kinki, Japan. That’s not nearly as interesting.

I actually got one in Korean a few months ago, and online translators tell me it was one of those “pay up in bitcoin or we’ll release the webcam photos of you stroking it to nasty online porn” scams. Sent to a randomly-generated email address at my domain, so good luck with that one, boys.

I’ve never really understood those. Even if you hacked my computer’s webcam, you’d only see me from about mid-chest up. To get my dick into the picture, I’d have to stand up and risk keyboard damage. Yeah, try explaining that one at the Genius Bar.

Analysis: true

The vast majority of 3D-printable designs available online are parts and tools for making 3D printers. Still. I’ve only printed one of them, an Olsson torque wrench, because nozzles wear out, and I’d really hate to strip a thread changing one.

D&D minis and dungeon tiles are also available in quantity, but most look like crap unless you print at the highest resolution, which takes hours to days for each one. And many still require substantial post-processing. In addition to painting.

According to Schultz…

We see nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

And more nothing.

German Unicorn Chaser

That’s what she said

Hillary Clinton on the election:

“No, it doesn’t kill me because he knows he’s an illegitimate president. I believe he understands that the many varying tactics they used, from voter suppression and voter purging to hacking to the false stories – he knows that – there were just a bunch of different reasons why the election turned out like it did.”

Oh, wait, she means Trump, not Biden. I guess that was what gracefully conceding looked like four years ago.

The Sacred Texts

1st the end trouble You studied many
Even tomorrow will make efforts
Day sets and the time of the under school
Stepping on the shadow that grew I will come back cheerfully
However, I wait a little bit I see the surroundings Is not it strange something?
The thing that attached to the head be what?
The thing that protruded prettily be what?
Be careful! fellows are coming to there
Escape early! fellows are next to you
Do it! Attach the ear of a cat!
Do it! Attach the ear of a cat!
Raise both hands! (highly toward the sky)
Raise both hands! (More highly toward the sky)

(Classical Reference)

(only known download link for full-quality AVI)

(only known reference to the creator, Kanden Chui)


MatterControl is a free 3D-printer manager/slicer/dicer from an online retailer that sells lots of filament, accessories, and printers (including their own models based on the open-source Prusa design).

I had a small part that required just a hint of support, and the Dremel version of Cura is all-or-nothing when it comes to generating supports. Since this software was next on my list to try, I fired it up, decrypted the user interface (universally foreign to all the platforms they support), loaded my part, selected from a library that included working settings for all of Dremel’s branded filaments, sliced, saved, and sent the gcode over the network with my little Bash script. Part came out clean and sturdy; “will slice again”.

I’ll get to try it out the next time I start loading up the baby takadai with bobbins, since it’s a small tool designed to make that process easier. The first version of the part was workable but clumsy, and I think the changes I’ve made in v3 will make it even easier. There might be a v4; still tinkering with how it attaches.

The braid in the middle is the PU/steel wire, in the same pattern as the one on the left. The one on the right is my first attempt at Sasanami reduced to 37 tama. You can see some tension and beating issues that I don’t know if I can solve on the babydai; the weighted bobbins (ezee-bob, bob-eez, whatever) are too light, and the frame is a bit small for me to really beat the weft in.

(that is, Sasanami is a warp-faced braid, where you shouldn’t be able to see the weft peeking out from underneath the thick ribs. The white threads should completely disappear instead of looking like a dotted line. The red isn’t as obvious against the background, but still peeks out)


There will be a v4. Or maybe I’ll go back to v2. v3 was a bust.

MasterLockdown Theater

🎶 Little jackboots, little jackboots, …

…Little jackboots, will kick you in the teeth. 🎶

94% of California now has a 10pm curfew (yes, including me). Because viruses spread faster after dark, especially when all non-essential services have already been ordered to close early. The ones that haven’t gone out of business already, anyway.

Estimated impact on Corona-chan pest-toxicity test-positivity: 0.

Estimated impact on constitutional rights: what part of ‘California’ didn’t you understand?

Reminder: Benito Newsom is Nancy Pelosi’s nephew, and tyranny is a family hobby. Also corruption and hypocrisy, but without that, they couldn’t run as Democrats.

🎶 Don’t go around tonight,
or they’ll take away your rights;
There’s a bad man on the rise. 🎶

Costco had signs up again announcing they’re out of stock of commonly-hoarded goods. “Remain calm, all is well”


My bank just increased my daily ATM withdrawal limit from $300 to $1,000.

Actually Unrelated

After someone updated the all-employee Slack channel with a description that said “Don’t use @here in this channel”, the flood of reactions felt like showing up at a large Zoom-from-home meeting and shouting,

“Alexa, repeat the song!”

Tesla's Flaming Piñata!

Safest Car Ever crashes so hard it sends flaming batteries through the windows of nearby houses.

And “Tesla’s Flaming Piñata” is now the name of my next Spinal Tap cover band.

Boys Over Cocogoats

You can take that award and shove it right up…

…ooh, that’s gonna hurt.

No Yuuna for you!

The English translation of the Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs manga apparently changed publishers, to one who isn’t supporting ebook releases and is charging a lot more. And didn’t overlap with the previous publisher, so the last one I bought was #9, and they’re starting with #11. Yo ho, a pirate’s life for me!

Parts is parts

My 3D-printed accessories for the baby takadai went over well with the group yesterday. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who bought a 3D printer and started making new koma, but the other person liked my design better than hers and asked for the STL files, which I was happy to share. The upcycled filament spool was as amusing as expected, and they really liked the more practical version as well.

(and, yeah, it really is too small for 37 bobbins, especially as light as these are; tension goes out the window when they’re piled up on each other)

Been there done that

Tried to watch The Boys, mostly for Karl Urban. Found myself distracted by the feeling that the creators are patting themselves on the back for doing something bold and different, evidence that they’re kinda new to comics.

(this quest is a great introduction to the cryololizombie Qiqi; no, I don’t have one yet)

One pin only, please

The clever bit

There are about a thousand filament-spool holder designs on the various 3D-printable download sites. I found this one noteworthy for one specific element of its construction: the lazy-susan component rides on wheels attached by pins clipped directly off the filament spool. That is, the axle on the wheel and the holes to secure it to the frame are ~1.75 mm in diameter, so you just grab some leftover filament, stick it in the hole, and clip it off.

I’ve seen a number of ways to align and secure multi-part prints, but that one is by far the simplest and most effective.

A day late and a phony ballot short

I just received the following spam at the email address I use with my domain registrar. Let me repeat, this one arrived today:

Subject: Limited Edition - Biden Harris 2020 T-Shirt Collection!

* Presidential Election 2020 gift Ideas for Men Women and Youths.

* Vice President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the perfect
  candidates to stand against Donald Trump and the Republican
  policies. Wear this to a political rally, campaigning and on debate
  night. Vote Uncle Joe and Senator Kamala Harris in the 2020

This makes the perfect political gift for the Liberal, Progressives,
Democratic men and women. The U.S. needs leadership and who better
than two experienced politicians. Senator Kamala Harris is the number
one contender for Bidens Vice President in 2020.

100% Printed in the U.S.A - Ship Worldwide
Limited Edition and Only Available for few days. They will never be
sold again or in stores. Don't delay, they will sell out!

The unsubscribe button goes to a Google form, the “view more designs here” button goes to a URL shortener to hide the final destination. The sender is using a Gmail account, but probably not with the knowledge of its actual owner…

Package deal

Today’s delivery will contain filament (including a spool of duckie yellow) and magnets. Tomorrow, coffee and a water filter. Wednesday, meat, meat, and more meat. Those should get me through the apocalypseholiday season.

Reply hazy, ask again later

I have no idea what’s going to happen between now and January 20th. The one thing I’m sure of is that Team Blue is not acting like a group secure in the knowledge that they won fair-and-square; they’re flailing around like someone trying to put out a grease fire with mineral water. The ruthless mockery and silencing of dissent is what you might call a “tell”.

The thought that comforts me is that they’re already starting to turn on each other. Hatred is the only thing binding the Left together, and if you take away Trump, it’s every Commie for vyxself.


Frozen bats full of Corona-chan cousins found in Japan and Cambodia.

(this probably is good, in the sense of “lab freezers full of potential evidence about the history of covid”; as long as keep track of all those freezers…)

PLAful kittens

Apple Broke Something Again

The hits keep coming, as the richest company in the world breaks their own app store, making it impossible for users still running High Sierra to install anything. Reminder: Apple frequently blocks perfectly good computers from upgrading to new OS releases. When they don’t brick perfectly good computers that try to upgrade, that is.

Cats, food

Porch Cat Prime is slowly adjusting to the new reality where there’s no longer a mutilated screen door for him to scratch on when he wants food or attention. He was very confused the first few days after I removed it, and even tried hanging on a window screen once, which was met with a face-full of water from the spray bottle. He will come into the house if I don’t block him.

Nearly-Identical Porch Cat (a cool gray instead of a warm one) shows up when he detects others being fed, but is very much the junior of the bunch. He’s pettable sometimes, but defers to the others if they decide they want what’s in his food dish. He’s smart enough to grab the meaty sticks first, though.

Solid Gray Porch Cat definitely lifts. He’s a bulky tom who’s all muscle, and despite his obvious health, is always ravenous when he shows up. He wolfs down whatever’s put in front of him and then checks to see if someone else is eating too slowly. Which is why Prime’s dish is up on the grill side table; Solid’s not much of a jumper. He shows an interest in coming inside, but hasn’t pushed his luck yet.

(I suspect they’re all getting much more interested in coming in, as temperatures drop into the 30s at night)

PLAing the field

Tried out a third-party filament for the first time last night, the well-regarded Hatchbox PLA (in a nice dull primer-gray). The one catch with the Dremel 3D45 is that it takes a slightly smaller, narrower spool than most third parties ship, including Hatchbox. This is because Dremel stores the spool internally, both for a more predictable feed path and to keep the filament warmer and drier. The downside is that even their new spools only hold 750 grams of filament instead of the common 1 kilo. So first I had to roll half a kilo onto a recently-emptied Dremel spool. I won’t do that by hand again; next time I’ll use one of the power-drill spool adapters.

The first thing I tried to print with the new stuff was a sewing thimble, because it looked like a quick job with some nice surface detail. But it wasn’t something I’d printed before, so when it showed signs of shifted layers along the Y axis, I wasn’t sure if it was the filament, the settings, or the Y-axis belt. Checking the settings, Dremel runs their PLA at 230°C with the bed at 60°C, while Hatchbox recommends no higher than 210°C, with no specific bed temperature.

I made a custom config at 210/50 and printed a known good part, my monorail koma. Worked perfectly. I might try out the thimble again in one of the Dremel filaments, to see if it’s just something that slices oddly in Dremel’s version of Cura. I found some forum posts where people had layer-shifting issues with some similar prints that went away if you rotated the model before slicing, and I remember a rounding issue in a gcode generator I used with the Nomad CNC as well.

Why go to all this trouble? 750g from Dremel = $35, a kilo from Hatchbox = $20.

Next up, hairspray on the bed.

…for getting the first layer of a print to stick to the glass bed, as opposed to the glue sticks Dremel recommends. I’ve only had a few minor issues with parts/supports not sticking, but sometimes they stick so well that they leave a completely clean spot that’s hard to fill in. I have a second print bed, so I can switch back and forth to see which method I prefer.

Afternoon puzzle, 3:30pm edition

If five Amazon packages haven’t left the warehouse yet and are all supposed to arrive tomorrow by 10 pm, how will they be shipped and what day will they actually show up?

Learn To (g)Code

After successfully printing 6 non-rounded parts with the Hatchbox filament, I told it to print three round ones, namely a ratchet, knob, and sanding jig. All three suffered catastrophic Y-axis layer shifts. So I switched back to what was left on the Dremel-branded spool, re-generated the gcode, and hit go. It worked… better, except for the jig.

It looks very much like the gcode that the Dremel slicer software generates when you try to print a thin-walled cylinder (like the jig) creates a rapid series of XY zigzag moves that causes the Y axis belt to occasionally skip, ruining all the parts currently on the bed. Why it was clearly worse with the Hatchbox filament may be due to irregular tension from my hand-winding, or just dumb luck.

Good thing I already confirmed that I can get good prints with MatterControl, eh? Sure enough, when the same trio of parts is sliced with that app, the printer never makes that distinctive shuddering zigzag noise, and they all come out clean.

I suppose I should take another look at porting the Dremel material and quality profiles to the current version of Cura, as well. Someone claims to have settings for good results with Hatchbox filament, which is worth a shot.

Picture is unrelated and kinda disturbing

Well, that was novel

A door-to-door steak salesman just stopped by. As he began hawking his wares at a distance of 20 feet, I had to stop him and inform him that I was expecting a very large box from Omaha Steaks in a few hours.

That's a big fat 'no', Amazon

Quoting from a recent email:

Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that helps devices work better. For example, if your device loses its wifi connection, Sidewalk can simplify reconnecting to your router and help set up new Echo devices. Sidewalk can also extend the coverage for Sidewalk-enabled devices, such as Ring smart lights and pet and object trackers, so they can stay connected and continue to work over longer distances.

When enabled, Sidewalk uses a small portion of your Internet bandwidth to provide these services to you and your neighbors. This setting will apply to all of your supported Echo and Ring devices that are linked to your Amazon account.

Learn more about Amazon Sidewalk: (url deleted)

Sidewalk is coming to your Echo device later this year, but you can disable this feature at any time from the Amazon Alexa app.

Call me crazy, but this sounds like it defaults to enabling this bandwidth-sharing “feature” on all supported Echo devices, unless you remember to shut it off after it goes live. It currently shows as off in the app, but also “not available yet”. Given that they turned on calling functionality without notice (leading it to call me on my cellphone when I said “porch light on”), I have no reason to trust them.

Note that there appears to be no way to determine what “small portion” means, or who you are currently providing “these services” to.

No Cura for you!

Tried to use Cura 4.8.0 with the settings I linked earlier. Had to abort the print in a real hurry because the leveling probe came down as it started to print the skirt. That does not work.

Despite its flaws, MatterControl looks like the best slicer for me right now. What flaws, you might ask? A completely non-standard UI, an actively user-hostile mouselook implementation, a habit of auto-loading a part that you last looked at two weeks ago, no retention of window location and size, no new Mac builds since April (Windows = 2.20.11, Mac = 2.20.4, Ubuntu = 2.19.10), and it pegs a CPU core when it’s idle. My fans spin up as soon as it launches, even if I never do anything.

The release notes promise a Mac version of 2.20.11, but “coming soon” was two weeks ago. I was able to successfully adapt the cursory build instructions they supply on Github, only to have it blow chunks on launch:

WARNING: The Carbon driver has not been ported to 64bits, and very few parts of Windows.Forms will work properly, or at all

        External Debugger Dump:
Abort trap: 6

I wonder how they got it to work back in April, but since the source/build directory is over 24 GB (not counting the Mono and Nuget installs), I’m not going to futz with it any further. I’d like it to work, since they’ve added some nice features, but the Windows version runs fine under VMware. And on the old Surface Pro 2. And the old Asus gaming laptop. And the not-quite-as-old Asus gaming desktop.

So I’m good.

We few, we happy few, we 15 million first-time Biden voters…

🎶 Where did they come from, where did they go,
millions of people, votin’ just Joe. 🎶

If you still have a Mac…

How to use the fingerprint sensor for sudo instead of your password:

sudo vi /etc/pam.d/sudo
# add as second line:
auth sufficient

(with fallback to password, of course…)

Make Room, Make Room!

I’d like to thank Omaha Steaks for providing me with such a nice pair of dry-storage boxes for filament. Also for forcing me to clean my freezer, because I hadn’t realized how much space their boxes took up; I think they’ve added more packaging since the last time I got anything from them. Which, admittedly, has been several years.

The peppercorn steak skillet meal was quite tasty, but there were supposed to be two of those in the delivery, so I sent them email, and after 6pm on a holiday weekend, they not only answered but issued a credit for it.

Also, “Soylent Green Is Paimon!!!”


I canceled DirecTV. I pretty much haven’t watched anything on it since before Covid, and they’re raising their prices. They made a perfunctory attempt at customer retention, but I think the reps are insufficiently motivated to push it, given that AT&T’s trying to dump the company like a box of dead bats at a Chinese lab. I just have to drop their equipment off at the nearest UPS or Fedex location and they’ll box and ship it for free.

I already canceled Marvel Unlimited when it came up for renewal, because they’ve cut way back on scanning their archives (“the good stuff”), and nothing that they’ve added in the last six months has been of more than momentary interest (“the derivative woke shitty lame-ass crossover stuff”).

(Unhappy Shamiko is Unhappy)

Also unrelated

I successfully printed a Benchy using hairspray on the bed. Easy to remove, and the bottom surface was much cleaner than with the glue stick. The best part of the hairspray was that touching up the bed after a print takes only a few seconds.

It has a rough spot on the bow, which I’ve seen on some other overhangs, and it seems to only happen in specific orientations. When I printed the big ABLE connector, for instance, one of the three 45-degree angle overhangs came out perfect, and the other two had rough spots that started at about the same height.

A bit of searching suggests this is a cooling issue, and either improving the fan circulation or lowering the print bed temperature should help. You can also apparently lower the actual printing temperature a bit, but that can reduce part strength.

Good to know…

The decision to merge the characters for “dry” and “fuck” in Simplified Chinese is an endless source of comedy.

I made a thing

When it came time to start cutting dowels and building the prototype tinkertoy-takadai (he says, skipping over the step where he made the torii/makitoribō uprights and the gravity ratchet with matching pawl and knob, and it all just worked), I pulled out my $15 miter box and saw, and could only find one of the cam pins.

So I pulled out the micrometer, poked the measurements into OpenSCAD, and made another one. It would probably take less time to search the garage and find the old one, but I always thought it should have had more than two anyway.

Picture Is Unrelated

It just came up when I was shuffling my archive of Pixiv downloads.

…which reminds me that I really ought to log in and try out the new DLC this weekend. And claim half a dozen copies of the eight special Pikachus that expire in a few days.

I do not choose you

Anal-Retentive Retention Retainers

After painlessly allowing me to cancel my DirecTV service, AT&T called me five times without leaving a message or supplying Caller ID. I finally picked up this morning’s call, at 10:20 AM on a holiday weekend, so that I could tell whoever it was to fuck off with great vigor. They at least had the courtesy to have a human on the call, but he did not identify himself or his employer until I asked.


The eight special hat-wearing Pikachu that were released for the second Pokemon Sword/Shield DLC expire tomorrow, so I finally updated the games on my Switches, logged in, and entered the codes. For each of my eight save files. Acquiring 64 Pikachu in six different languages takes a little while, so I still haven’t actually played the DLC.

I did not make a thing

Sure, when I’m browsing sites that feature pictures of attractive young women who are not overburdened with clothing, I sometimes find myself thinking, “Daddy’s got a place for you, and the door locks from the outside,” but even if I were in a position to exercise restraint(s), I’d at least be willing to spring for proper cuffs. Hell, it can take days to print a miniature dungeon.

(and, yes, using hard plastic cuffs for anything but cosplay ornaments is a bad idea)

I published a thing

I put the miter box cam pin up on Thingiverse. Yes, I have to be “J.” there instead of “J”, because assumptions. Once upon a time I had a Facebook account, and since they rejected “J.” as well, my name was “Jjusttheletter”. And that was before they started demanding you prove your identity to them.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”