back to article Bright spark dev irons out light interference

Dust yourselves off, dear readers, it’s Friday once more and time for On Call, our weekly column of reader’s technical triumphs. This week, “Justin” has written in to tell El Reg about the time he worked as the lone software developer at a foundry. By all accounts, it was a dirty job if you ever left the confines of the …

Angel

Re: Have you ever put something apparently useless to good use?

Once is enough...

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Re: Have you ever put something apparently useless to good use?

Dangling prepositions and split infinitives are problems with *Latin* grammar, not English. Good riddance to the stupid rules than the Victorian grammarians came up with.

Now, incorrect apostrophes and misuse of "whom" are problems with *English* grammar, and your ire would be justified in those instances.

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Re: Have you ever put something apparently useless to good use?

There was never a good reason to completely ban split infinitives.

Or prepositions at the end of a clause. Both prohibitions are folk prescriptivism and false elevation, and serve only to demonstrate that their proponents have little understanding of English usage, pragmatics, or sociolinguistics.

I think I heard that the origin of this "rule" came about because Latin didn't have split infinitives

Yes, courtesy of various Neoclassical pompous asses and generations of small-minded, ill-informed teachers who slavishly followed their dictates. The same is true of the prohibition on prepositions at the end of clauses, the reasoning there being that a preposition must come before an object, because that's what its name means ("in front").

As English shibboleths go, those are mightily weak ones. Pedants should really pick something better, like the misuse of "jejune".

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It's called a choke.

Ferrite choke, used to block common-mode current. It doesn't stop all interference, only high-frequency common-mode interference. Fortunately in this case, that must have been the type of interference causing the problem.

It works the other way too - if a device is generating interference, a choke in the right place will greatly reduce the strength of that interference. Be nice to your local ham radio operators and just stick chokes everywhere, please.

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Paris Hilton

Re: It's called a choke.

But don't choke the operator. Unless he's into that sort of thing.

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Facepalm

Re: It's called a choke.

Mate from the pub lived about 4km from the local exchange that he got his ADSL from. He had all sorts of problems with it. One day, after a thunderstorm, his modem was dead. I gave him a clip on ferrite and told him to loop the incoming wire to his new modem through it. Common mode impedance = turns squared and all that. All was well for a few years, until his data rate started getting worse. They sent out an 'engineer' who told him to remove the ferrite, because it could affect the signal. As if. Anyway, two weeks later, another thunderstorm, another dead modem. And then they finally fixed the corroded connection up a pole...

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61pzG0wFnUL._SY355_.jpg

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: It's called a choke.

Aaargh! Enough bad chokes in this column already.

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Coat

Re: It's called a choke.

Add some paint in an abstract pattern and it becomes an arty choke

Sorry, couldn't resist. I'd better be going. The one with "Get thee to a punnery" in the pocket please

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Re: It's called a choke.

In fact, it works better the other way. Put them at the source of the problem (the striplights) and you'll solve other problems too. Maybe the occasional mispositioning of that foundry's bucket of molten iron.

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Re: It's called a choke.

Richard Lederer. Love his books.

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Re: It's called a choke.

"Be nice to your local ham radio operators and just stick chokes everywhere, please."

Many amateur radio operators need choking. Notably the full licence holders who forget to release the pressel occasionally.

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swm

Re: It's called a choke.

When I worked in research I would use ribbon cable to send high-speed signals from one side of the lab to the other. Never had a problem until I interfaced to a Xerox machine. The interface didn't seem to work but on closer inspection I found it wasn't the 50 foot ribbon cable but the connection from one card to the adjacent card in the Xerox machine. Using a large voltage swing CMOS driver on the card driving the other card fixed the problem. Xerox machines were electrically noisy with an inadequate grounding scheme.

TTL never liked driving long wires. I always used series termination at the driving end.

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Windows

Blu Tack

Those of a certain generation grew up with expansion packs secured with the universal blue fixative. If we'd had Sugru back then we'd have been ecstatic.

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Re: Blu Tack

I was wondering if anybody would bring this one up. You beat me by 16K. Sorry, 16 minutes.

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Re: Blu Tack

I recently acquired a ZX81 and expansion pack. Haven't tried it though so no need of the Blu Tack yet.

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TRT
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Re: Blu Tack

Ah. The zx81 ram pack. The answer to life, the universe and everything.

4/2000

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Justin in rusty dusty, er.. adjusty.. un-busty....?

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Happy

Had a similar experience but with the light itself

A print detector on a leaflet folding machine checked there was print on both sides of the paper. If either sensor read the wrong number of lines the machine was stopped. This had worked perfectly for several years, then we started getting reports of intermittent false positives. Whichever of us was available would go there and have a look, but everything behaved perfectly each time.

We started to get some vague suspicions when told the problem only occurred on the late shift and I was the lucky chap ordered to do the overtime. I knew the way to the machine and started poking around but everything seemed OK, at which point one of the operators came along and helpfully switched on the main lights, and the sensor reading the underside immediately faulted. The operator commented that it always seemed to be that one (information that nobody had given us before), then went on to say it only happened after they moved the machine. Looking up, there was a massive 8 tube fluorescent unit directly above.

I chopped up a large cardboard box to form a makeshift tunnel, and everything ran fine. The production manager laughed when he saw the fix, but still signed off the work, and said he'd get the maintenance crew to make something more permanent, adding that it was about time they earned their pay.

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Re: Had a similar experience but with the light itself

Back in the days of Umatic professional video cassette recorders (in the broadcast world), it was common for kind people to offer to 'help' junior to fix one by making sure there was a nice bright bench light shining into the works.

There are a surprising number of IR sensors to tell the mechanism where it is, and quite fascinating things happen when they get confused...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Had a similar experience but with the light itself

I went to check the accuracy of a speed sensor on a rotating shaft. My handheld noncontact tachometer was going nuts - readings in the thousands of RPM and bouncing around like crazy when the actual speed was maybe 100 RPM and steady. Turned off the overhead fluorescent lights - worked perfectly.

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Re: Had a similar experience but with the light itself

"said he'd get the maintenance crew to make something more permanent"

Did they ever get a round tuit?

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Happy

Re: Had a similar experience but with the light itself

Actually, yes they did!

It was a work of art. A double hinged sort of cabinet top with gas struts, and nicely balanced so you could easily lift it up and back with one hand to make adjustments, then when closed, switching the folder in to 'Run' locked it in place. Apparently the HSE wonk almost wet himself with pleasure and insisted that a similar guard was fitted to the other folders - quite unaware that it's primary purpose had nothing to do with safety!

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Devil

"Have you ever put something apparently useless to good use"

Every door stop at work (and we have a lot) is upside down. For some unknown reason they work better that way, with the ridges facing down. Any other products like this, that work better when used incorrectly?

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Almost everyone seems to put kitchen knives into knife blocks resting on the blade. If you put them in the other way, the knife block isn't damaged and the blade stays sharper.

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Kitchen knives

Also, sweeping chopped food from the chopping board into the pan using the sharpened edge of the blade instead of the back...

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Re: Kitchen knives

"Also, sweeping chopped food from the chopping board into the pan using the sharpened edge of the blade instead of the back..."

Plus the back of almost all kitchen knives are straight (for optimal contact with the chopping board), whereas most have a curved sharp edge which doesn't scrape as well.

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Re: Kitchen knives

Use it as you would a shovel, not a rake... then the sharp edge isn't damaged, and you're holding the knife the way the handle suggests.

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Any other products like this, that work better when used incorrectly?

Road sweepers, who must be assumed to know a thing or two about brooms, always seem to use them upside down.

That sounds as if they hold the brush and sweep with the handle. What I mean is that they use the brush end with its bristles parallel to the pavement so that the wooden back scrapes the ground. I'm beginning to wish I'd never mentioned it.

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Pint

If a road sweeper replaces the brush head multiple times, and the handle multiple times also...Is it still the same broom?

Points for anyone who got that reference...

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Pint

Knife blocks

"Almost everyone seems to put kitchen knives into knife blocks resting on the blade. If you put them in the other way, the knife block isn't damaged and the blade stays sharper."

Genius comment of the day, have a pint.

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Thumb Up

holy smokes

That's novel. I'm going into the kitchen to reverse the knives right now.

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Anonymous Coward

"knives into knife blocks resting on the blade"

My knife block has the blades held sideways, blade either to the left or right. This is probably why.

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About the baby

If it's a girl, they're going to call it Sigourney, after some actress. If it's a boy, they're going to call it Rodney, after Dave.

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@PickledAardvark,

Except of course those with the sharpener built into the housing. They rely on the blade being the right way up, or you'll soon end up with a double-headed knife with one sharp side and one dull side.

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At Tigra 07, re: using it upside down.

I tried that once... She told me to stop. *Cough* =-)p

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"If a road sweeper replaces the brush head multiple times, and the handle multiple times also...Is it still the same broom?"

Is it still the same road sweeper? Panta rhei, said Herakleitus, everything flows and you cannot step in the same river twice.

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...and did your mother tell you to trim your toenails so your socks will last longer?

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Almost everyone seems to put kitchen knives into knife blocks resting on the blade. If you put them in the other way, the knife block isn't damaged and the blade stays sharper.

Won't work on all knife blocks. Many have a "sharper" inside that the act of inserting or removing the knife hones it a bit.

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Paris Hilton

Triggers broom = Ship of Theseus

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Anonymous Coward

Tigra 07,

Your 'Road Sweeper' comment 'Triggered' a vague memory ;)

BTW, shouldn't your name be 'Triga 07' ....... :)

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ROC

Re: Kitchen knives

Yeah - might keep a few bits of finger out of the pot that way...

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ROC
Boffin

Re: Knife blocks

My wife pointed that out to me long ago when we got her first kitchen knife block. I always thought it safer to keep the sharp edges down, and not worry about any dulling that a bit of contact with wood could do (and sharpen as needed if such a silly thing could happen...).

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Road sweepers

The supervisor occasionally accused less active sweepers of breastfeeding the broom.

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Anonymous Coward

I've never seen that. We have messy roads.

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Headmaster

Office 365 Slogan

I had the devil of a time parsing the Queen's English title to this story. Yes, I'm from the other side of the pond.

"Bright spark dev irons out light interference"

What is the verb in the title? Spark? No, sparking a dev iron doesn't make sense. Out? Better, in the sense of exposing or "outing" something. But what does it mean to have a dev iron expose light interference? Light? No, too far into the sentence. Iron, as in iron out? Ah, now we're getting somewhere. But what is a spark dev, and what does it mean for a spark dev to iron out something? I think I need to go back to school to study English at Cambridge on the River Cam instead of Cambridge on the Charles River.

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Re: Office 365 Slogan

He was a dev (-eloper) who was clever, ie. a bright spark.

So a bright spark dev. And he ironed out (removed the problem) the light interference, as you figured out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Office 365 Slogan

Don't worry, I'm on the west side of the pond, too.

"Bright" as in smart/brilliant/quick-thinking.

"Spark" (also "Sparky") as in electrical/electronics engineer (or similar). Used derogatorily by those who deal with hardware above the scale of electrons (sparks). I've been called this a few times by mechanical engineers.

"Bright spark" together can mean the same thing as just "bright", also referring to that lightning flash of inspiration (the proverbial light-bulb thought).

"Dev" as in developer (or engineer).

"Iron out" as in remove the wrinkles / fix the problem (or as these Reg Brits often say: "sort out"), but has double meaning with the iron choke.

Full version: "Quick-thinking electronics/software developer sorts out interference from the lights using iron choke." But not nearly as humorous.

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Re: Office 365 Slogan

If you want to parse Reg headlines, you need to learn to read from the tabloids, not Cambridge.

Not that el reg is down in their cesspit - it's a kind of journalistic joke. I think.

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Anonymous Coward

>If you want to parse Reg headlines, you need to learn to read from the tabloids, not Cambridge.

I did actually go to Cambridge and that's why I can parse el Reg headlines.

The average tabloid reader wouldn't have a clue.

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Re: >If you want to parse Reg headlines, you need to learn to read from the tabloids, not Cambridge.

I did actually go to Cambridge and that's why I can parse el Reg headlines.

I did actually go to Cambridge, and it has nothing to do with my ability to parse Reg headlines.

I guess it's all about cultural context. Not a binary thing, just usages that are a little less familiar in forn' parts. Our perplexed 'merkin friend finds himself, like Eliza Doolittle, with the language but not quite the nuances.

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