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Cable fail

So I was able to unsolder and cut away part of the broken ribbon cable on my Psion 3a.

Removing the old ribbon
Removing the old ribbon.

I didn't want to remove it all as it is quite firmly bonded to that white thing you see below it. That white thing that is the reflective panel behind the LCD glass. Not wise to mess too much with that.

Unfortunately, the new cable, being cheap Chinese junk (which, granted, did arrive quickly!) withered in proximity to my soldering iron.

The new ribbon, not so hot...
The new ribbon, not so hot.

As I was unable to track down a proper replacement cable, I have instead ordered a 16 way extension adaptor. I'll unsolder the flip-down connection from that and see if I can get it fitted to the Psion screen... though I'm not entirely sure if there will be space for it?

Anyway, if that works, cool. If not, that's €20 I've spend on this and given as it's just a "what if", and that I don't really have a use case for the device (sadly it's too old to talk USB or SD cards or anything so interfacing it to modern stuff will always be an issue), I'll just bung the screws back into it, shove it in a drawer...

...and repeat this entire scenario in about ten years. ☺


Don't get me wrong, I loved the PocketBook II when I got it (thanks John!), and I quickly outgrew it so got myself a better spec 3a. Mom used to use the PB2 for writing emails to friends that I'd copy over to a USB key using my Win98SE box. So the broken hinge? Totally blaming that on her. ☺
Anyway, it was a brilliant form factor. A display large enough to be usable, a keyboard large enough to be usable, and software that wasn't going to set the world on fire but was good enough to be usable... all in a little (and quite solid) case, a machine that ran ForBloodyAges"™ on a pair of AA cells.

In the days when smartphones simply didn't exist, laptops were clunky and chewed batteries, and feature phones attempted to give you Java applets with a T9 keyboard... the Psion organiser was like a breath of fresh air. Honestly, I've never found anything since with a keyboard so small that was so usable.
My Xperia something-something (had a slide-out keyboard) was "functional" in the same way that hefty rocks are functional ways of opening doors. The Android portable that I'm writing this on? It's a pretty crappy keyboard, but it works and it's nearly full size. It's a 10 inch screen if I remember correctly, so the device is larger than my EeePC, even if the circuit board inside it would likely fit into a TicTacs box...


It's gonna be windy

Much of the northern two thirds of France is currently on yellow alert for wind. There's some sort of storm blowing through. Which is brilliant because the trees all have leaves so, yeah, if the anticipated winds happen I can see fallen trees being an issue.

Which is why I had to do something about the walnut tree that was leaning on the phone line.

The tree snagging the phone line
The tree snagging the phone line.

I set up the ladder and climbed up into the tree to look for the part to cut down. As I was turning myself around, there was a brief wet pants moment as the tree lurched. I thought the whole thing was going to come down, but it was just my weight in the tree tore the phone line mounting out of the wall and the branch that was leaning on it shifted.

Unsure if it was broken or not, I took the nuclear option of cutting off the entire limb that was poking the line. It crashed to the ground, leaving the phone line whipping around like crazy.

But, it was still connected.

This isn't right
This isn't right.

I went inside, and had a solid 3.5mbit. That's my average speed now, after the recent round of repairs to the line. It's probably been patched so many times, I bet a spectrum analyser on the signals would show plenty of errant reflections. Still, it's just got to hold on a little longer until they get around to fixing up all the fibre stuff.

I found the other piece of the ladder, and extended it up to roof level and climbed up for a better look.
This was a two-person or cherry-picker job. Somebody to pull the cable into place and somebody else to knock the spike into place.

Since I had neither a cherry-picker nor another me, I had to think of a plan B. Plan B was to grab a metre of low-grade mains cable (like to a lamp or whatever) and tie one end to a joist and the other end was looped around the metal loop at the end of the phone cable, pulled tight, and tied off.
With the phone line in the right sort of place, I whacked the end spike into the roof timber. The timber was already split, I think that's where the spike was before, so I put it back there to save making another split in the old wood. The split is worse because I knocked the spike in vertically. I did try horizontally, but it just fell out when I tugged it.

As it is arranged, the spike and the cable are taking roughly equal amounts of strain.

The phone line strung back up
The phone line strung back up.


The burning books

It seems as if people are losing it in various ways due to the agitation of dumb people thinking they are making a statement by burning a certain piece of religious text.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but isn't burning one of the permitted ways of disposing of old and/or damaged copies of said holy text?

Granted, it should be a respectful buring, not a braying mob trying to stir up outrage over something foreign they're too stupid to understand, which is quite clearly disrespectful.

That being said, offended adherents thinking that the (often religious based) rules that apply in their country should apply in other places is also disrespectful.

Sadly, people too often think with their emotions rather than their heads. People are concerned, and if more books end up in flames, there's a risk that somebody might end up a corpse.
The problem is that I think this is partly what the incendiary knuckle-draggers want, as it will support, and in their minds justify, why they are doing what they are doing because of the "dangerous enemy within" or some such rubbish.
The fact that their actions are offensive, irresponsible, and idiotic won't occur to them. And sadly, since religion has a special place in many people's hearts, offence will be taken when, really, this whole thing ought to be ignored as the pathetic actions of a bunch of no-hopers that aren't worth paying any attention to.


Exploring space

A phrase you might have heard being used as a measurement of distance in space is a "light year". This is easier to think about than 5,880,000,000,000 miles (which is how far light travels in the duration of an Earth year).
Our nearest neighbour star, Proxima Centauri is about 25,300,000,000,000 miles away, which is better expressed as about 4.3 light years.

Voyager 1, launched in 1977, has passed into the outer boundary of the heliosphere, that's the region of space that marks the outer boundary of the solar system but still within the protective bubble of solar wind that shields the planets from interstellar radiation (that greatly attenuates cosmic rays.
Voyager 1 was launched sixteen days after its twin Voyager 2. And together they have been drifting in space now for nearly 46 years, and they're now about 15,000,000,000 miles from earth (Voyager 1) and 12,500,000,000 miles (Voyager 2).

Let's put that into context. Voyager 1 is twenty two light hours away, and Voyager 2 is eighteen and a half light hours away.

It would take about 75,000 years for Voyager to reach Alpha Centauri. Except it won't because the star's thattaways and the spacecraft isn't... hell, it'll take another 300 years to reach the Oort cloud (a theorised cloud around the outer solar system containing many billions of comets), and around 30,000 years to pass through it, assuming it doesn't crash into any of the cloudy crap.

Unfortunately, Voyager hasn't yet been able (or necesarily) in the right place to confirm the existence of Steve, sorry, I mean "Planet Nine".

You can see how far away the Voyager probes are.

But where are they? Well, NASA has an on-line orrery which lets you look at what's going on in and around the solar system. You don't really appreciate exactly how far away these things are (and still functioning nearly as long as I've been alive) until... well...

So, it's just over there then
So, it's just over there then.

Anyway, in the celestial scale, our solar system is a minor hiccup. So our experiences at exploring space are going nowhere in a hurry. The problem with space is that it is unimaginably massive, and with any conceivable technology using our current level of knowledge, that just makes ridiculous timespans. Such as Voyager's seventy five thousand year journey to our nearest star (if it were going that way).

That being said, there are some places that aren't exactly holiday destinations. The planet HD 189733b (discovered by Frenchies in 2005) orbits its star every 2.2 days. It has had quite a bit of observation since then, perhaps because of what might be the most darkly comic description ever put on Wikipedia in all seriousness:

The weather on HD 189733b is deadly. The winds, composed of silicate particles, blow up to 8,700 kilometres per hour (5,400 mph). Observations of this planet have also found evidence that it rains molten glass, horizontally.

I won't link to Wikipedia, you can Google it. Instead I'll link to NASA one last time for some potential intergalactic holiday destinations.

Have fun!



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Anon, 1st August 2023, 23:01
The question on my mind right now, of course, is "where can I get a decent pan-galactic gargle blaster?"
Arthur Dent, 1st August 2023, 23:03
This must be a Thursday. I never could quite get the hang of Thursdays.
Zaphod Beeblebrox, 1st August 2023, 23:05
I invented the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.
Sperm Whale, 1st August 2023, 23:05
Hello Ground? Will you be my friend? *splat*
Bowl of petunias, 1st August 2023, 23:06
Oh no, not again!
Rick, 1st August 2023, 23:23
Meh, prod me when Zooey Deschanel turns up... 
J.G.Harston, 2nd August 2023, 01:02
You may think it's a long way to the chemists'...
David Pilling, 2nd August 2023, 01:48
NASA has regained contact with Voyager 2 after losing it for a week 
After accidentally turning the Voyager 2 spacecraft away from Earth and losing contact with it, NASA engineers have now heard a “heartbeat signal” that shows it is still okay 
I wonder what happens to a book loaded in memory when you turn the computer off, or close the app down. 
C Ferris, 2nd August 2023, 08:31
I'm surprised that no one didn't have a go at putting a atom powered beacon on  
Hadley's comment.
Rick, 2nd August 2023, 08:48
There is. Because the Voyagers are too far from the sun to make use of solar panels, the Voyager system is powered by radioisotope thermoelectric generators (power from decaying plutonium), but they won't last forever. Service life something like 48-50 years (which means the end is near). 
Rick, 2nd August 2023, 08:51
Unless you meant putting a beacon on a comet? 
Interesting idea, certainly. But lending on the things isn't easy, and I suspect a beacon might possibly weigh a bit too much to be safe with the miniscule gravity of the comet, not to mention liable to change its trajectory. 
But, yes, an interesting idea for sure.
A dolphin, 2nd August 2023, 10:30
So long, and thanks for all the fish!
C Ferris, 2nd August 2023, 18:35
I wonder if a conducting glue would work, for the cable joint.

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