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Game royalties

R-Comp have just contacted me to say that they have £18.72 in royalties for me. After making a mess of working out what that would have been without R-Comp's 25% cut, I finally made it that the total sales amount to £25. Which, given that it cost a fiver (well, £4.99) means I only sold five copies. Hmm...

I didn't write a game for RISC OS expecting to make a killing, but I did think I'd at least touch a double-digit figure.

Oh well, I had fun writing it, as you might have guessed from the series of blog articles in the first half of December.

I had asked R-Comp to pay me in teabags, but thanks to Bloody Brexit, all that sort of thing has suddenly got a lot more complicated.

So I've told Andrew to consider the £18.72 to be a donation towards RISC OS Developments. It's a little amount, but I'm sure it'll do more good than if I spent it on chocolate...


Will I be going to work tomorrow?

It's currently (at quarter to eight at night) about 7°C with a cloudy sky and very very light drizzle. The farmer is in the field laying low a spray of treated pig crap - so I guess rain is on the way soon.

Hard to imagine we're currently on yellow alert for snow/ice.

If so, it'll be almost exactly the same time as when I missed a day last year due to snow. It was Felicity's final days, and a day of snow.


Fun and frolics with frazzled electrics

I recently fitted a nice bright 100W-equivalent LED bulb in the cow shed where the mower and tools live.

I went to turn the light on late on Monday afternoon. A brief flicker and nothing. The hell? The bulb has already blown? Really?

I put the old tungsten bulb in place. Nothing. I flicked the switch on and off a few times and... a really dim flicker and then nothing.

On Tuesday I took apart the switch. An old rotary thing. It was pretty gunked up, but I cleaned up the contacts, got it nice and shiny inside.

A fixed up old switch
A fixed up old switch.<

Still nothing.

Weird. But since it was coming on dusk, I left it there.

Yesterday, I went and unscrewed one of the old lightswitches from the field barn. The entire electrical circuit down there has been disconnected because damp somewhere was causing the main trip switch to cut out. Maybe one day I'll look into fixing things - rather than the current crazy of having a socket on the outer edge of a west facing wall (guess what direction the rain usually falls), but since I don't need light down there, it's only ever used as a home for kitty, it's so far down the list of priorities that I'll probably die before getting around to it.

Try as I might, it was simply not possible to unscrew the old switch. You can just see one of the screws on the right of the above photo. The problem is that it's a remarkably narrow slot in the screw, my regular screwdrivers don't fit and the one that does is too small. So with a little bit of sadness, I positioned the point of my screwdriver just to the inside of the fixture, and hit the end of the screwdriver with a socket wrench. The bakelite fractured easily, but thankfully careful placement meant that it's only the two screw holders that are broken. The rest of the switch is intact. Because it's probably pushing a good half century old. I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't originally installed in 1968 when the electrics were originally installed here.

The replacement switch was fitted and... nothing. Dammit!

Today's job was to remove all of the switches and short the two wires together with a simple terminal block. The problem with doing this, I should point out, is that it's only the new wiring to the bedrooms (that I installed!) that has trip switches. For all else, the only way to turn it off is to poke the main disjoncteur, turning off everything.
So testing things meant switching the entire house on and off. I threw the trip switches to the bedrooms so the server stayed off, and the Livebox failed over to the battery supply when the power went off.

Shorted together... nothing.

Okay, I'm a little upset about the old switch, but only a little upset as I much prefer a regular push switch than this weird turn-thing (the other one broke inside, so it needed replaced too).

The next idea was to check the light holder. I climbed the ladder and wobbled the tungsten bulb. Nothing. Gently tapping the wires, and then the sides of the unit. Still nothing.

I also marvelled at the horribly hacky way the big sodium discharge lamp was added into the circuit. Mom used to get upset at me touching the electrics. You see, when I was little I dropped a teaspoon across the contacts of a plug to see what would happen. What happened made me wet myself. A pretty crowd pleasing reaction, but not so much when you're basically right on top of it. And you can't bullshit an angry mom when there's a big black mark on the wallpaper and a smouldering nightlight welded to the socket in a "no way this is coming apart" fashion. And soggy pyjamas. Mom didn't even need to ask.
But the way she would retell that story, she'd neglect to mention that I was about eight and make it sound more like it was eight weeks ago.
Just a shame mom didn't really understand what a hack the wiring here really is. Oh, and it's lots of three-phase with stuff tapped into it at random (one phase and neutral is the 230V you'd normally get from a socket).
The sodium bulb may also be mercury or metal-halide, however since it glows pinkish-red when first turned on, I'm guessing it's the neon starter of the low pressure sodium vapour style of lamp.

There was only one other part of this circuit. A little bakelite junction box that joined bits of wire together.

A junction box
A junction box.<

The idea was to remove the switch from the circuit and short the wires together - effectively making the lamp be 'on', to tell me if the old wire has a break in it somewhere.

I slipped a screwdriver into the slot of the tiny screw and turned it and... the light came on. I wobbled the screwdriver the other way and the light went off. The other way, the light lit up.

I've left it be, in a position for the light to operate. If it proves to be a problem, I'll need to open that thing up and look to see what's loose. But I know enough about the electrics in this place to know that if it works, leave it the hell alone. The amount of crumbly rubber around the conductors means the last thing I want to do is disturb something that doesn't need to be touched.

It's working at the moment. And half an hour later, the same. Well, whatever is up with that junction box, it picked this week to act up having not given a problem in the last twenty years I've been here.

I wired the replacement switch back to front. I like my switches so that the top is pressed in when the switch is off, but the switch for the sodium lamp is wired up so that the bottom pressed is off, and I felt that I ought to make this one the same or it would just be weird.
I wired it up with the fuse out of circuit, because... well... the old switch and the sodium one aren't fused. I don't see any point. Plus, the position of the switch means it would be near impossible to replace the fuse - it's recessed into the wall.

I put the LED bulb back and... success! The bulb was fine. It was everything else. ☺

Here's the 'new' (repurposed) switch, with the sodium lamp switch on the left.

The new switch
The 'new' switch (right).<



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VinceH, 11th February 2022, 00:27
Five copies of Mamie's House since the London Show (late October) Vs Four copies of Escape from Exeria since Wakefield (April). You've outsold me in both actual numbers, and the average number per month! ;)
J.G.Harston, 11th February 2022, 00:27
Yellow snow alert. hur hur hur.... :) 
('90s cultural reference. Kids today. Gerroffa my lawn!)
J.G.Harston, 11th February 2022, 00:30
A few years ago I got an email from somebody who cited my work on Jet Set Willy in the 1980s in their academic article on computer game protection. :)
Zerosquare, 11th February 2022, 15:14
> I know enough about the electrics in this place to know that if it works, leave it the hell alone. The amount of crumbly rubber around the conductors means the last thing I want to do is disturb something that doesn't need to be touched.  
Be careful, though. Poor electrical connections can overheat and start a fire.
Rick, 11th February 2022, 17:46
It's only running a load of 7.5W. I'm actually surprised the light goes fully out when I turn the switch off - the one in my bedroom doesn't, not unless I also unscrew the fuse. Ain't old electrics fun? 
(I think my light switch has always been "leaky" but it's not until LED bulbs that a milliamp here or there has actually had a visible effect) 
Rob, 11th February 2022, 17:52
Damn, I'm glad I don't live nearer; I'd be round there rewiring the whole place for you. It's one of those "complicated but straightforward" jobs I find easy and relaxing; no opportunity these days, even if I had the time, regulations are such you are supposed to have official certifications before you are allowed to replace much of anything. I was fitting extra sockets for neighbours turn of the 1980s, when I was about 14  
- Officialdom would have a fit these days!
Rick, 11th February 2022, 18:30
It's much the same here. Need lots of pieces of paper before you're allowed to touch anything that looks like a wire. 
I did the bedrooms as the guy who was doing the work wasn't happy with the three phase. At least he was better than the plumber who installed the water heater, who looked at the four big wires coming out of the master trip switch and asked which one was live. Idiot hooked it up between two phases, so while he went to connect the other end I switched the wires over, so the heater got 230V, not 380V! 
The wiring here is very very very much not to standard. But France has an interesting get-out clause in that it is considered "to the standard of when it was installed". The notaire recently visited to value the house and told me that he's seen far worse. I don't even want to imagine... 
If ever you're around these parts, Rob, do pop by and say hello. ;) 
Rick, 11th February 2022, 18:34
PS: No, I'm not trained in wielding a screwdriver. But if little useless me can figure out things the professionals can't, I figure that piece of paper ain't worth a 💩. 
Probably some legal/insurance bollocks, but to be honest I'd rather something that works and isn't going to burn the house down, than having to go anywhere near the aforementioned legal/insurance bollocks. 
David Pilling, 11th February 2022, 19:08
I shorted the mains as a lad, you don't forget. Fortunately the amateur electrician has been made illegal in the UK. I always thought the "down is on" thing was a location dependent convention, like driving on the left. "Down is on" is true in the UK and "up is on" elsewhere. Alas they have allowed the import of "up is on" equipment - now one never knows. 

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