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A future idea for the washing machine

I don't want to mess with the mechanism of the washing machine, for it appears to do its job well enough, and there's little that can be done without essentially removing all of the mechanical parts of the control system and replacing them with relays, triacs, etc. Not to mention drilling into the drum housing to fit temperature sensors, enhanced water level detection, and so on.
In other words, a major job. Not something I'm inclined to consider any further than the thought necessary to write this sentence.

That being said, it could be possible to add a little bit of sensing to the machine in order to remotely enquire as to its status. Now obviously I won't be able to tell the fill level or water temperature for the same reason as above. But it shouldn't actually be that hard to tell what the machine is currently doing.

The secret is to remove the control knob and attach a disc to it. A piece of laminated paper, printed on one side to show what the current selection is (because the disc would obscure the current method). A fixed arrow on the body of the machine would point to the appropriate part of the disc. Sort of back to front of how it currently works.

The underside of the disc? A little bit of magic. Something sort of like this five minute mock-up.

Code disc
Code disc.

Obviously, the pattern would be correct (taking up more of the disc as is appropriate) and repeated for the delicates cycle.

Glued into holes drilled in the top of the machine, the plastic top of the control panel, will be three optical sensors. These will be wired to something like an ESP8266.
This thing will connect to WiFi and run a little program (in Lua?) that would simply respond to connection attempts by returning a value that represents what the sensors are seeing. For example, '2' (or 010 in binary) would be the end of the wash cycle when the heater has been turned off, and '6' (110 in binary) will be the fourth rinse, the final one when conditioner is added, if used.
A fourth sensor would allow for sixteen states to be registered, perhaps enough to denote most of the parts of the washing cycle individually? While there are seventeen GPIO pins on the 8266, there are only eight pins on the circuit header. Two for power, a reset, a power down, two GPIO, and serial transmit/receive (which can double up as GPIO). So that's four GPIO max, recycling the serial pins.

A little USB power adaptor can be hooked across the mains circuit, after the power switch, obviously. This will provide the low voltage DC to run the ESP8266, well, I'll need a 3.3V VREG in there somewhere, too.
All of this can be fitted into the controller box, most likely on a little piece of stripboard. There shouldn't be any water ingress unless something has gone horribly wrong (and then one would worry more about splashing water all over stuff at mains voltage).


I don't know whether or not I'd ever actually make it. For a start, the knob is firmly fixed in place and I don't want to force it in case it is holding something in place inside the controller.
But, it's a fun little thing to think about while wiping down tables (aka Autopilot Mode).


Hello Scotland!

I picked up my phone to upload an image (the one just below) and I saw that somebody in the UK had called me. Not a number that my phone recognised, so I put the number into Google and it came back with an address in West Lothian.
Since they (mostly!) speak English in Scotland, I gave it a call.

A nice woman, seemed about as confused as I was, who was quite sure that she hadn't called France about fifteen minutes earlier. So I wished her a Happy New Year and ended the call.

Weird, but okay... (Orange sent me an SMS to say that her number called me at 7.13pm and left a message of zero seconds duration).


Bloody CAF again

The CAF, or the Caisse d'Allocations Familials (or something like that) is a bit like social services. As an employed person on a low income, I'm able to get a small benefit each month. It started off as a tax rebate for being employed, leading to the odd situation where I'd make my tax declaration and they'd then send me money.
A few years ago, this was stopped and it was handed over to the CAF to be paid monthly. From the outset, the CAF were asking weird and annoying questions. I have dealt with them in the past, and I think it's in the job description to "be as annoying as possible".

As part of this benefit, I have to log into the website every three months and declare how much I was paid for the previous three months. They then roll a dice to work out what my benefit level is likely to be. I say this because I have given up trying to correlate my declared amounts with the amount of the benefit. I'm guessing there is some logic, but it's far from a linear "you made this so you get this" sort of thing.

Well, thanks to all the Brexit crap, they recently sent me an email saying that my dossier was incomplete. So I signed in, and had to say "No, I'm not French" and "No, I'm not European", and "Yes, I'm something else (including British)".
Then to send a photo or scan of both sides of my residency permit.

Which, obviously, I have done.

Signing in this time, I see the following at the top of the "things to do" menu.

The CAF wants what?
The CAF wants what?

I sent the following using their message form:

J'ai un petit alert qui dire "Merci de nous envoyer par courrier votre nouveau titre de séjour".
Désolé, mais non.
C'est hors de question de envoyer par poste la seule chose que me donne le droit de résidence en France. Je fais quoi si un gendarme me contrôlera?
Alors, je comprendes que vous peut-être souhaite de voir le titre pour vérifiez qu'il est vrai et correcte. Donc, dans cet cas vous pouvez me faire un rendez-vous au centre social de XXXXX (je crois que ils est les matins de xxxxx?).
(no, I didn't use Google Translate)

And again, in English:

I had a little message that said "Thank you for sending us by letter your new residency permit".
Sorry, but no.
It is out of the question to send by post the only thing that grants me the right to live in France. What do I do if a policeman wants to check my paperwork?
However, I accept that you may with to see the permit to verify that it is real and correct. Therefore, in this case, you can make me an appointment at the social centre in XXXXX (I think it's xxxxx mornings?).
Thank you,


They'll probably have a conniption fit. But given that there is already a notice on the site about delays because of Covid, I have exactly zero intention of sending, as I mentioned, the only thing that attests to my right to be in this country to god knows where for god knows how long because some pencil pusher decided that the photo I took wasn't good enough for them.

Note well that I have not refused to show them my residency permit. I have simply refused to post it to them. And since I don't have a copy, or anything else to do what that card does, it's something that I will not do. Just straight up not happening.

Frankly, I find their demand to be utterly unacceptable, bordering on malicious.

I'll let you know how they reply. Idignantly, I would imagine. <sigh>


Well done, postie!

I'll let this photo speak for itself.

Well done.
👏 Well done. 👏


Amazon wants me to rate their global impact

The Amazon app had this in the welcome screen.

Rate Amazon's impact
Rate Amazon's impact?

This question is vague and imprecise to the point of being useless to anybody except the PowerPoint-wielding twat that devised this question.

Impact on the world?

  • The socioeconomic impact where ordinary people can order a huge variety of stuff and get it delivered very soon for almost free? (example: last night I ordered five packs of Mississippi Belle Macaroni Cheese, they arrived today). For this, I'd rate you highly.
  • The socioeconomic impact you're having on other shops because they have neither the scale nor the innovation to attempt to match you, and instead need to go crawling to their government to get you penalised for their failure to notice the world changing (French booksellers, I'm looking at you).
  • The impact of making it so much simpler for ordinary people to get their ideas into print.
  • The impact of the wilful distruption of the publishing market, not to mention that for every good self-published book, there's a massive pile of crap, and life's too short to sort out which is which.
  • The impact you're having on the environment, what with all these deliveries in parcels way larger than needs to be, not to mention stuff spread out in different warehouses so it is possible that ordering things in the same order might result in multiple parcels sent by different carriers.
  • The impact on your workers. I think you are probably treating French employees reasonably fairly because employment law here is pretty rigid. Shall we talk about the crap you're pulling in America in your attempts to keep employees from forming unions?
  • Shall we talk about the crap you're pulling with your tax declarations?
  • And no, Bezos, you aren't an astronaut. Enter orbit, then you can wear your 'naut badge with pride.

On the balance, while I am pretty satisfied with Amazon, I do not have an overly positive view of their impact on "the world". But since the question is so vague (only marginally better than the Brexit question), I didn't bother to respond. It doesn't seem that there's any point. The cynic in me thinks that they want to be able to point to a predetermined outcome (survey says: 80% of our customers think we are rockstars) or quietly drop the whole thing if 80% of their customers think they suck.


Pissing people off

Speaking of sucking, Macron recently announced his intention to "piss off" (emmerder) the unvaccinated. If you don't like the p-word, well, that's the best translation to carry the levity of what he actually said.

And since Macron is both a politician and the President (plus it's an election year), people are going nuts.
Les Républicains said that it was not language becoming of a man in his position. They must have very short memories, as convicted racaille Sarkozy (former President, former leader of their party) has said a great many things the a President probably shouldn't say. It was he who taught me "casse-toi, pauv'con" (many ways to translate, none of them polite), and "racaille" (rabble/scum, might be the origin of the word rascal). He's been convicted of corruption (three years, two suspended and one in jail; currently in the process of being appealed; and there's a second corruption case in the works). It probably won't surprise you if I say that Les Républicains are basically the French equivalents of Tories.

Anyway, Macron wants to upset, annoy, and hassle those who are not vaccinated.

I was speaking to tea-shop woman yesterday, who offered an interesting opinion. The French "tricouleur" (flag) stands for Liberté, égalité, fraternité (shouldn't need a translation). It's also the national motto of France, and what a lot of the concepts of the country are based upon.

An interesting sidenote is that Black Lives Matter receives a fairly lukewarm reception in France. Not because they are racist, but because drawing distinctions between one person and another in any official context flies against the concept of equality.
This isn't to say that there isn't racism, sexism, and all the other -isms that other countries have, it's just a more personal thing as opposed to, say, the British Home Office that makes reckless prejudice an actual policy.

She said, that as she has "liberty", then she should be free to choose what she wants to accept into her body. As it happens, she is fully vaccinated. But she is worried about the possibility of side effects and that people have died from the vaccination, and kept on referring to the vaccine as "experimental".

I pointed out that I'm quite well aware of the side effects of medicines, expecially new things considering that is what ultimately killed my mother (a real conversation stopper, that!), and I personally have very little faith in medicines. A self-administered paracetamol is about my lot.

However, Covid is nasty. To walk around in the midst of a pandemic that has touched nearly a third of a billion people with nothing other than prayer and faith in your immune system is...dumb. Especially as this was described as a "novel virus". That doesn't mean "oh, look at that". It means it's something that people's immune systems will never have encountered before.
Global deaths from vaccination? Maybe a hundred if we throw in some edge cases.
Global deaths from Covid? Around five and a half million.
Global people who are suffering long Covid? About a hundred million (it is running at around 43% of all cases)

With those figures, I'd rather take my chances with the vaccination. Yeah, it might have made my heart blow up, but deaths from vaccination doesn't even count as a rounding error compared to deaths from Covid.

And so if the President wants to get on the case of those who fail in their civic duty because they read something scary on social media, let me go microwave a bag of popcorn.
The interesting thing about Macron is that he isn't worried about being "the bad guy". And since France currently has the first six months as part of the rotating leadership of the EU, Britain probably ought to keep it's gob shut and hope Macron is more interested in his reelection than proving points over fish quotas.
But, then, it's Johnson on the other side. He might learn a hard lesson all too soon.



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David Pilling, 9th January 2022, 02:59
Rotary encoder - cheap as chips - they are usually made from a couple of switches, rather than a disc with multiple optical sensors. Perhaps compare with the old fashioned mice that could sense a disc rotating (usually with optical sensors). 
J.G.Harston, 9th January 2022, 04:43
I ordered some 31" winter trousers via Amazon. I was sent 33" summer trousers. This was after I'd spent a frustrating day wandering around Sheffield trying to find a) *WINTER* trousers, 'cos, y'know, it's winter, and b) ones my size, and in frustration mentally shouted **** YOU!!!! and went online. 
If bricks'n'mortar shops can't be arsed to sell what their customers need, and online shops can't be arsed to sell want their customers need, what's the point?
J.G.Harston, 9th January 2022, 04:53
I've been in hospital for operations I think four times so far in my life. One of them was an elective thing and in the discussion the surgeon said: the lifetime risks are this, this, this, etc. And I said that the risk of being squished by a bus are several hundred thousand that, go ahead. 
The other operations were more comparable to Covid. Not operating would be: certainty of eventually ceasing to breath in the near future; operating: being able to continue to breath for at least several decades, risk of short-term blood clots, infection, morphine withdrawals, not pooing for a week, etc etc. Ok, go ahead.
David Pilling, 9th January 2022, 13:53
I had the first vax out of a sense of fraternité, I will grant you the benefit to others is now not as great as it was thought at the time. Now they say hospitals are mostly being put under strain by the un-vaxed. People in general have behaved less than well - not a surprise - they never did - always the bloke who did not have bad side effects from colds who insisted on coming to work and spreading his cold around. 
"Covid is nasty" unless you get it asymptomatically. 
Interesting Covid tales - Omicron developed in mice - Very little Covid in Japan. A lot of the science of Covid has been explored with experiments on mice because of the similarities to people in its effects.
Rick, 9th January 2022, 15:25
Sadly, sometimes the idiot that comes to work when they are unwell does so because he can't afford not to. 
Over here, doctors are happy to sign you off work for three days if you are poorly, and that's because for the regular worker, the first three days are not covered, either by the employer or the Sécu. Perhaps to penalise the scum that take time off to enjoy the football or "because it's a nice day", but given that it can mean a difference of around €180-200 in the next pay, many come to work when they are ill because they simply can't afford not to.
Rob O'Donnell, 10th January 2022, 11:16
Sometimes the choice is between two bad options. Unfortunately most people gravitate towards the one nearest "do nothing" even if its the worst choice. My Mrs was hospitalised 2020 because of a long standing skin condition that was causing her legs to quite literally rot away. Three times she ended up being rushed into Intensive Care from infections. In the end, they told her bluntly, she could be admitted to hospital where they would monitor her, and to stay there until they could amputate them, or do nothing, stay home, and die! She wisely chose the former.. So several months in hospital, during the first peak in the pandemic.. Not fun, but since then she's been much weller (albeit considerably shorter..)
Rick, 11th January 2022, 18:18
David, thanks for the suggestions. 
The problem with the rotary encoder is that I would need something that can attach to and augment the current control mechanism. I'm not sure how a rotary encoder would attach in a way that would be sensible. Sadly, the controller spindle doesn't progress beyond the other side of the control unit, otherwise it would be a potentially simpler (and tidier) matter of attaching something there, inside. 
The mouse sensor is a no-go unfortunately. Mice are not able to sense any sort of actual position, only subtle timing differences between when two paths of light are broken by a spoked disc, this allowing it to report the direction of rotation. 
To think about... and procrastinate upon. ;-) 
Rick, 11th January 2022, 18:20
Rob, I can't comment. I don't trust doctors or medicine, so I have a very simple rule. 
I'll see the doctor/go to hospital if: 
* Unusual amounts of blood come out, or come out of unexpected places. 
* A piece falls off (oh! look! there's an arm on the floor!). 
* I am not able to stay conscious. 
For anything less than that, I'll take a paracetamol if it feels bad, then keep calm and carry on. 
[edit: dunno why the name at the top of this comment said "Rob", usually when my phone gets my name wrong it comes up with "Rock", anyway, fixed]

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