“Some people, when confronted with a problem, think I know, I’ll use regular expressions. Now they have two problems.”

— Jamie Zawinski

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.

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!”

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.

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.

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]

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

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…

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…

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