jc blog - tales of a modern-day nomadic hunter-gatherer

Follow jcomeau_ictx on Twitter This is the weblog of Intrepid Wanderer. You never know what you might find here; graphic descriptions of bodily functions, computer programming secrets, proselytizing for the antichrist, miscellaneous ranting and kvetching, valuable information on living off the land... if you don't share my rather weird interests you may want to try slashdot instead.

You can consider my Del.icio.us links an extension to my blog, as are my LifeTango goals and my other to-do items. My to-buy list is also public, but only for sharing any useful ideas that might be there; I'm not requesting charity, neither do I offer it.

You can find me easily in google searches, as jcomeau, jcomeau_ictx, or jcomeauictx. There are lots of other jcomeaus, but AFAIK I'm the only jcomeau_ictx out there so far.

If you want to comment on anything you see here, try the new Facebook comments, reachable by clicking the "[comment]" link at the end of each post. If for some reason that isn't working, go ahead and email me, jc.unternet.net. You know what to do with the first dot. Make the 'subject' line something reasonably intelligent-looking or it goes plunk! into the spambasket unread.

This RSS feed may or may not work. Haven't fiddled with it in forever. RSS Feed


last night I ran out of dental floss, the 50 meters having lasted me two years, and found the same at Yza for $3.75. if this lasts me as long, that's still a half cent a day I'm paying to P&G. too damned much. I'll have to learn how to make my own. but then there's still the $16/year for Fusion cartridges. and I already know how to stop that -- sharpening my knives to a razor edge and using those -- but it'll take a lot more practice until I stop cutting myself. [comment]


got my debt down to below 5700. if all goes well, it'll be gone in about 11 months. [comment]


just threw away almost 400g of a 600g bag of machaca I bought only about two weeks ago. already starting to mold. damn, that hurt. [comment]


one discussion that comes up fairly frequently online is the topic of vaccines, and specifically the mocking of anti-vaxxers. people who don't get their kids vaccinated for measles and mumps (and at least 10 other illnesses of varying severity) are stupid and anti-science.

but to my generation, these childhood illnesses were rites of passage, which, once suffered through, gave us lifetime immunity, and in the case of females, gave their offspring enough immunity through the blood transferred in the womb to get through the first few months or years until their own bodies could start producing antibodies of their own. from what little I understand, this latter advantage is not conferred through vaccine-generated immunity, which is why vaccines are being given to younger and younger infants all the time.

yes, there are statistics that say there were deaths from these childhood diseases. but my friends and I don't remember any in our classrooms, just as many in younger generations don't remember any vaccine injuries and deaths in theirs. I have to wonder why this is so. could it be that the complications and deaths mainly occurred in undernourished children? or that they were the byproduct of their parents taking them to a hospital, where they were exposed to pneumonia, tuberculosis, and many other highly infectious diseases, instead of treating them at home? could the same be true of modern children suffering vaccine injuries?

I don't know the answers. but the questions should continue to be asked, and the efficacy and potential risks of each vaccine should be evaluated by every parent considering immunizing their kids, and not just simply accepting doctors' recommendations, which may be tainted by financial or litigation concerns. [comment]


one of my friends posted to Facebook an experiment her friends or family had done with a young black locust tree, placing mauls and axe heads on branches and letting them grow new handles for the tools. it took a few years for the first one to be harvestable, but if done right, these handles could last many years.

did my first 5k-or-more jog of the year, the malecón to the end, and back on the upper road cut into Cerro de la Calavera. then on my way back I found a 50-peso note not far from that ugly yellow hotel north of Marina Palmira, just lying there in the sand next to the path. [comment]


I kicked that last bug easily. but learned my lesson: with my poor diet, probiotics aren't an option, they're a daily necessity. [comment]


earn.com hadn't sent me anything in months, so I logged in the other day just to cash out my balance, thinking that, like all fads, this one was fading away. but I had too little, below their threshold for withdrawal.

but then, the next day I got a $2 task, and today another one for $1. so it's still viable! you just have to login every now and then so they'll send you stuff. [comment]


skipped my yogurt this morning and drank a giften Ballenón at lunch, and already this evening starting to feel sick. so I'm eating yogurt almost exclusively until I kick this. [comment]


now, after getting my panorama generator working, I'm grateful to Jonathan de Ferranti and Ulrich Deuschle for not responding to my emails requesting them to open-source their code. now I can take full credit for it.

there's still a long way to go before it's production-worthy though. the next big goal is to correct distances for latitude; right now it's assuming an equirectangular earth, which will only give close-enough results near the equator. [comment]


oh, and I'd been dithering about buying a rolling pin for months... years? anyway, I kept putting it off, and finally realized today I had plenty of cylindrical things around that would do the job: beer bottles! just had to get the labels off. so I filled one with water, put it in a pot full of water, and boiled it for a while until the label easily peeled off and I could remove the rest of the glue by scrubbing it with a washcloth. unfortunately, the bottle (from Cucapa amber) had convex ridges on it at the bottom and just below the neck, which of course I didn't realize until I'd already made the effort. but Pacifico bottles don't have that problem, so I used the same water to do the same treatment to one of those. presto! I have a quite usable rolling pin for my tortillas and pie crusts. [comment]


last night, or rather this morning, I woke up from a weird dream in which I was full of parasites, so much so that I could see various bugs and worms wriggling under my skin. I'm fairly sure this is a recurring theme in my dreams. I remember remarking in my dream how well I felt despite the presence of all these alien life forms in my body.

for dinner tonight I tried an experiment, a type of beef stroganoff using onions, garlic, machaca (shredded jerky), yogurt, and butter, along with a little black pepper and soy sauce. it was an unqualified success. I made 3 tacos and a hand pie with it, and so far the tacos alone satisfied my appetite so I still have the pie for tomorrow.

roughly, the recipe is: chop half a medium onion and two cloves of garlic and sauté in butter. add a handful of machaca, about half the volume of the onions before they shrink from cooking. add more butter to rehydrate the machaca. when the onions have lost their sting, add about two tablespoons of yogurt, season with black pepper and soy sauce or salt, and move to the edge of the comal. roll out your pie crusts and/or tortillas from the dough you made earlier in the day, and spoon the "stroganoff" onto the flour creations you made.

I made 3 tacos and a pie, and the tacos were enough to satisfy my dinner appetite, so I still have the pie for tomorrow. I'd say the experiment is an unqualified success, despite the lack of mushrooms. I might do this again and again. [comment]


well, I managed to totally destroy my firmware-mod-kit. it had been compiled on my old 32-bit system before that crazy upgrade-in-place to 64 bits last year, and after changing and recompiling some parts of it, it broke the rest, so I had to recompile everything.

then I was getting errors about major and minor being undefined. that was a known problem (thanks Stackoverflow!) and solved by:

sed  -i '/^#include <sys\/types.h>/a #include <sys/sysmacros.h>' $(find . -type f -name '*.[ch]' | xargs grep -l types.h | xargs grep -L sysmacros.h)

also, make clean from /usr/src/firmware-mod-kit didn't remove all the object files, so I had to zap them with:

rm $(find . -name '*.o' | xargs file | grep -v x86-64 | awk '{print $1}' | tr -d ':')

none of that worked, because now I get a whole bunch of errors from binwalk, such as:

/tmp/tmpols8RO, 1388: Warning: Printf format is too long for type `belong' in description `%ld,'

which, apparently, is due to an incompatibility with recent versions of libmagic. so Collake's idea of including all the sources of all the packages he used, trying to avoid the possibility of upgraded packages breaking his scripts, failed. [comment]


finally! got my wbr-1310 router to accept a modified firmware image. I had to do a nasty hack to add the '7zip' header to each section of the lzma-compressed squash filesystem. but then I was rewarded with a success screen, and then on reboot, the correct date! [comment]


now that my panorama generator is somewhat functional, I'm already getting distracted by the idea that it could show the Mandelbrot set as mountains and valleys. got to resist, though, if I ever hope to settle the "flat earth" debate. [comment]


pretty stoked I got the panorama code working well enough to share with the world. still has a long way to go though.

I'm thinking that perhaps my eating probiotics almost every day may not be as important as what I don't eat, particularly talking about simple sugars. not feeding malevolent microorganisms could be more critical for health than boosting the supply of benevolent ones. [comment]


my backup phone hadn't been able to update apps for months. finally googled and found this solution, uninstalling Google Play Store updates, which worked! [comment]


just learned about dict.setdefault tonight, after I was going to subclass dict to add the desired functionality, and stumbled across it. it saved me 26 seconds of runtime by changing: with open(filename) as infile: to infile = OPEN_FILES.setdefault(filename, open(filename, 'rb')) in a subroutine that gets called a few thousand times. from 13m17s to 12m51s. [comment]


my latest landpaddle design, just a piece of PVC pipe with some bike tire tube rubber attached to each end, isn't bad but needs a wheeled device with very little rolling resistance. my home-brew skateboard wheels are just too bumpy. [comment]


some things about the WBR-1310 I learned: when it's on its recovery firmware, its WLAN address is, and it's expecting a connection from, on the WLAN port. it doesn't respond at all on the LAN ports, not to or any other IP number. and it tries to initiate a TFTP RRQ for "COBRAART.SYS", but it doesn't launch a tftp server itself. oh, and you get to the recovery firmware by holding the reset button on powerup for some unknown number of seconds. sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. when it works, connecting by browser to shows an upload form for a firmware image. you'll watch it upload your firmware, and then you don't see anything. just let it sit for at least 15 minutes, the longer the better, and hopefully when you power-cycle it the 2nd and 4th LEDs should flash, the former at 2Hz and the latter at 1Hz, and the LAN IP will be back to however, the username and password will be whatever it was last set to; the hard reset doesn't reinitialize that. luckily I had the config.bin saved, and zcat showed the XML with the password in it.

another gem is that telnetd is launched maybe 30 seconds after bootup, and sticks around for some time before shutting down. login is Alphanetworks with password wrgg19_dlwbr_wbr1310.

it doesn't have much in the way of utilities. nothing like wget, or nvram, or even mtd. but you can, for example, cat /dev/mtd/4ro > /var/log/tlogsmsg, and retrieve it from another xterm using wget and mv tsyslog.rg mtd4r0. [comment]


finally went back to the roastery outlet at Belisario Dominguez and 5ta de Mayo for some good coffee. my microbatches came out fine but the added oil made the result unsuitable for use with my grinder, and grinding it in the molcajete is way too coarse.

over the last few days I made great strides with 2 projects, the unbricking of the Dlink WBR-1310 router and the plotting of SRTM3 data. specifically, I got the router back to factory firmware and was able to plot a somewhat-recognizable view of Isla San Juan from La Paz. [comment]


I haven't said anything for fear of jinxing myself, but here goes: I haven't been sick since November of 2017. never got so much as a cold. now, a few times I caught something, but I immediately fought back with probiotics and each time it never went beyond a scratchy feeling in the throat for a couple of days. I'm super chuffed about this. hoping to keep this up for 2019 as well. [comment]


unbricked my wbr1310 today. took several hours, but now it's back to normal again. I guess I'll try messing with it again tomorrow. [comment]

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