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The tree man

Alas, how he took the big trees down will remain a mystery. When I came to recover the ESP32Cam, it was extremely hot. This wasn't the sunshine, it was tucked under the north side of the house so will have spent most of the time in the shade.
It was the µSD card that was making most of the heat. No idea why. Hooked to a USB reader, none of my phones wanted to touch it. Fat32FS on RISC OS was able to show the root directory, with all subdirectories empty and the configuration file unreadable. I might have a crack at trying a low-level sector read to see if I can extract anything, but I don't hold out much hope as SCSIFS reports that there's nothing to look at (and, honestly, I don't know how Fat32FS is able to read anything). Plus, if Fat32FS reports that data cannot be read (which could also explain the empty folders, it just can't read them) then, well, it's extremely unlikely I'll be able to recover anything.
Annoyingly, the device would wake up (from deep sleep), wait five seconds for the AGC to stabilise (otherwise the colours would be all over the place), take a picture, write it, then go to sleep for about eight seconds, to make a total of a fifteen second cycle, for 4 images per minute. I say "annoyingly" as it wasn't as if it was even on all the time. It spent half of the time effectively powered down.
The NVRAM counter is 970, so it ran for about four and a half hours before failing. And by failing, whatever happened with the µSD card tripped the brownout detection, so the rest of the time the thing just repeatedly rebooted itself (that's the firmware, not me). Remove the card, it started up as expected.

Oh well.

As for the tree work? Well, here's a before and after:

The trees, before.
Looking north, before.

The trees, after.
Looking north, after.


The trees, before.
Looking east, before.

The trees, after.
Looking east, after.

He said he would "broyer" (crush) the branches, and that the big logs that were the trunks would be left on the ground for me to cut up with my chainsaw.

I left his quotation, signed and dated, affixed to the tree with a cheque attached. And around the other side, a twenty euro note with a message saying it was a "pour boire", as in "when you're done, use this to buy yourself a drink".
In return, he left the trunk like this:

The trunk, nicely cut.
Nicely cut up for me.

And in various places around, piles of the thicker (more useful) branches, also cut.

Wood to collect.
Wood to collect.

Which is brilliant. The phone line is mostly accessible and clear of trees. The main impediments are the two massive EDF poles, but that's not my fault. I would imagine I'm certainly not the first place to have to wiggle the phone line around somebody else's infrastructure. The trees have been sorted, and while €350 (including the tip) was a little bit expensive, it's less than I was expecting for one tree, never mind all of the work. I'm pleased with it, and I can sit my fat arse out front and write this crap on the Android portable rather than trying to climb/fell trees.

You can see all the poles and wires now.
You can see all the poles and wires now.

Tomorrow, or sometime soon, I'll need to go around and collect up all the logs and take them to the wood shed. But it's pleasant out today, so I'll sit out and get a little bit of the bit glowy thing in the sky that might fart some more pretty night colours in a couple of days - keep your eyes open for aurora warnings - as of now, to peak on the 6th, if the sun-burp is still belching that is. You can find aurora predictions online, but note that their ephemeral nature means that the predictions are usually only for about an hour in advance, so it's best as a "hit refresh and see if I should go outside now" rather than "it'll be good tonight".


Idiotic interview tricks

You've probably seen the sites that talk about "this one weird trick that allows me to filter out bad job candidates".

One of the main ones is known as "The Coffee Test". You'll get shown around, and somehow you'll end up with a drink (often a coffee). Well, the test is to see what you do with the empty cup. If you leave it on the desk, you're not a good candidate and if you take it back (or at least ask) then you'll be a good fit.

Excuse me, but I'm not an employee at the time. The interviewer is not only assessing me, they are representing the company. This includes a certain degree of hospitality, which includes - seeing as they arranged for me to end up with a drink (#) to also deal with the cup at the end.

# - Part of my random proclivities means that I am quite fussy about what I drink, so rather than going into details (especially for a non-coffee drinker that wants milk in black tea made properly and not at bloody 60°C like far too many Frenchies think is right), it's often simpler to politely decline.
Oh, and don't get me started on food. That's where taste takes a back seat to texture and... let's just say that if you think you've met a picky eater, they are probably positively normal compared to me.

Another so-called test is "The Time Trick". This is where, quite simply, the interviewer will intentionally delay the start of the interview (just by being late) as it creates stress and they want to see how you handle stress.
How I would handle it? Unless it was something I was dying to do, I'd give 'em ten minutes and then leave. They might think that it's a clever trick to play to put the candidate into an uncomfortable position to see how they react, but it also gives an incredibly negative image about how the company regards punctuality. Is this how the company operates? A meeting scheduled for eleven o'clock doesn't actually start until twenty past? Or your work hours are from 9am until 5pm and while you must be present and in place exactly at 9, the 5pm end is, shall we say, far too flexible?

Another common trick is "The Long Pause", where following a reply there's just a really long pause to see how the candidate reacts. A typical way around that is to wait a moment, and then politely ask if the answer was sufficient or if they are looking for more specific details.
Unfortunately for them, while a pause or two is acceptable (especially if they are writing or reading something), if this happens too much then I'm extremely good at doing that myself (to the point where I can unnerve my boss in the yearly interview with the complete silences). I don't like interviews and can easily unleash all of the silent pauses that nobody else wanted.

Related to the above: aggressive questioning, sounding angry, or asking work-inappropriate questions. Again these behaviours are "designed" to see how the candidate handles stress, but it would be quite the narcissistic little prick that actually does such a thing during a job interview. They might think that it's their job to assess you, which is correct, but at the same time you are assessing them. A person like that is not somebody you'd appreciate working for. Remind them that the interview is a two way thing and that if this is representative of the sort of behaviour that one can expect from a colleague or manager, bye.

And of course, the "Oops I dropped the pen trick". Do you bend down to pick it up? You should. But you should also know you're being played.


And, finally, just really weird mind-gamey questions like:

  • If you were a pizza topping, which would you be and why?
  • If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?
  • If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?

There is actually a bit of psychology behind these. Maybe not empirically validated, but things can be determined if you choose to be a classic pizza topping, an unconventional topping (hello pineapple), or even "an assertive topping", although to be honest I don't know how the hell one would judge a pizza topping using a word like "assertive"? Jalapeño perhaps? Or lashings of cheese? What is an assertive topping? It's a bloody dough disc with stuff on top...

As for the superhero one, well I have a pretty dim view of the whole superhero genre, and pretty much blame them for the fact that supervillians exist, so it would be hard to take that question seriously.
Unsuitable and completely random answer? I'd have a pump-action double-barrel penis that can squirt gallons of cum at a time so I could get extremely rich making weird porno movies and not have to worry about attending idiotic job interviews like this one. There. Done. Bye.

They, of course, will be looking for superpowers highlighting such things as endurance, speed, agility, blah blah you can see how utterly boring such a question would turn out; my reply would be unlikely to get me a job but it's also unlikely to be forgotten any time soon - in fact I'd bet that it's probably the one thing you'll remember from this entire blog article, other than "something about trees".
So with that in mind, seems as good a time as any to bring this article to a close. Chhkk-chkkk Sqwoooosh! (now try to get that image out of your head ☺)



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David Pilling, 3rd June 2024, 23:19
Pity about the video, I was expecting YouTube gold, team of tame beavers released from back of truck. 
Trees that are left look sufficient and will soon fill in any gaps. 
I only know one interview question "why are manhole covers circular". 
jgh, 4th June 2024, 01:12
"why are manhole covers circular" 
(looks out of window at rectangular manholes) 
Are they? 
David Pilling, 4th June 2024, 03:50
Of manhole covers... because the cover won't fit through the hole - no plummeting into the abyss beneath. As to saying they're not round, you're a troublemaker.
Gavin Wraith, 4th June 2024, 12:24
When we used to interview students our chairman would produce from his pocket two identical looking little cylinders and put them into their hands. They were told that they weighed the same, were made of homogeneous material and had the same dimensions but that one was hollow. They were asked to determine which. No cutting, no X-ray machines allowed, of course.
C Ferris, 4th June 2024, 13:23
Wasn't there someone nicking manhole covers and selling them for scrap:-(
Rick, 4th June 2024, 15:26
David - the manhole covers is from a day when interviewers would ask logic (non trick) questions. 
As was pointed out, it won't fall into the hole. They're heavy so making them round means they can be easily moved by rolling. And finally there are no particular stress points (like the corners) which makes them more resilient. 
Gavin - I'd put one to my ear and tap it with the other, then swap. If one is in some way hollow then it should sound different. 
Gavin Wraith, 4th June 2024, 16:01
They are made of rigid material, alas, so sound does not help. Since they weigh the same the hollow one has a bigger moment of inertia - its matter is positioned further away from the central axis. So the answer is to roll them down a slope. The hollow one will be slower to get moving but will roll further. The point was that the concept of moment of inertia was not taught in schools in those days. It was a test of innate sympathy, if that is the right word, for the dynamics of objects. A similar test is how to find out where the centre of gravity of an object is.
jgh, 5th June 2024, 19:28
"not taught in schools in those days" 
Whenever I come across that phrase - regardless of the subject - my response is almost always "yerwot? since when?" 
In my bog standard comprehensive secondary school I was taught about moments of inertia, about household finance, about how to cook, all these things the chatterartii complain about "not being taught in schools". 
Rick, 5th June 2024, 20:29
Gavin - while your inertia answer is interesting, I would still contest that an object with a hollow space will *sound* different if tapped. You can see this in the real world as part of checking rocks to see if they contain geodes. From the outside it's just a roundish rock, with some amazing beauty inside. And this can often be tested with a deft tap of a pointy hammer because they don't sound like regular (solid) rocks. 
The only possible oft-out is if the cylinder was made in a vacuum, but this wasn't specified (and I'm not sure how it would be made in such a way), so we'll assume it was made in regular planetary atmosphere, which means there will be air inside in the hollow part, which means that vibrations will affect the air molecules and travel differently there than in a solid object. 
In theory one might also be able to determine this with a vacuum as, again, sounds will travel differently to a solid, but I think now we're looking at microphones hooked to data plotters rather than just poking it at an ear and clunking the thing. 
jgh - I was taught *NONE* of those things. 
In fact, something I plan to talk about later on, I wanted to learn how to cook (instead of doing woodwork) and a teacher at a regular school (not the special needs school I eventually went to) said, and I quote, "You a fag, boy?". 
So my knowledge of inertia is how not to fall off a bike. 
My understanding of household finance is "bank loans are a last resort, not a first" and "never use a credit card" and "never put a bill aside and forget it" (thanks, mom). 
Cooking? You'd seen the sort of "recipes" I have come up with. My go-to meal is pasta (usually linguine which, thanks to its texture also doubles as a comfort food) because I can program my little auto-cooker to make it for me. 
I also was not taught about the Partition of India, the fact that the British also screwed up Palestine (following the collapse of the Ottoman empire), nor how much Britain had to do with the slave trade, and we pretty much whizzed at high-speed through the Kings and Queens. Really, it was like "Romans, meh, World War Two". 
Which is a shame because a LOT happened in the 'meh' part. Some terrible (Dark Ages) and some, well, how about Britain's glory days of kickstarting the industrial revolution? 
But, I guess, this sort of stuff just wasn't interesting enough to make it to the curriculum, perhaps until one took history as an elective? 
David Pilling, 6th June 2024, 13:55
Those cylinders, perfectly rigid, so sound would be different to common experience. Infinite speed of sound for example. Poke one end and the other moves instantly. But Rick is right, there would be effects from the air inside sloshing around. 
As a kid I was interested in history - so learnt stuff outside of school.  
New concept, you get a certificate from school that says what you've been taught and have no responsibility outside that.  
Up till now ignorance of the law is not a defence. 
Why the history interest, making Airfix kits, playing with trains. 
Today it is worse, everything is under your finger tips. Not the trouble I had to go to as an 11 year old to read a book on the history of WW2 (for example). 
jgh, 7th June 2024, 18:07
In the 1980s in 'O' level years we had "Design for Living" which was to teach kids how to function in the adult world once they'd escaped from the protection of school and parents. One double period every week, so 60 hours over two years.
jgh, 7th June 2024, 18:15
Yeah the slavery thing really annoys me. It seems everybody has absorbed "slavery bad, m'kay, all Britiain's fault". 
Hold on. Egyptians. Romans. Incas. SPANISH EMPIRE! And what about the hundred years of British blood and gold spent on the West Africa Patrol engaging in what legally was international piracy stamping out the slave trade, capturing slave vessels, liberating the slaves, giving them the option: we can take you back to Africa (likely result: other Africans campture them again and sell them again) or we can take you to British territory, give you British citizenship and a plot of land. We spent about 4% of UK GDP - when today we struggle to get above 1% on fireign aid - and about 25% of government spending stamping out the Atlantic slave trade. And if you ask most people, they're oblivious that it ever happened. 
Britain was the first county *EVER* in the *ENTIRE* history of mankind to say: up with this we will not put, and to take the action to follow it through. Previously you had individuals and organisations that would purchase individual slaves and liberate them. The UK went the whole hog and bought out the entire market and then closed it down. Sneakily, taxing most of the slave holders to raise the money. 

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