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Things that make you go erm.


Bill
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Thought I’d start a new thread that we should all be good at. Nothing too heavy, just the little things in life these days that cause that little shake of the head and cause us to mutter "Why the hell do they do this." I know a lot of this can be put down to age and the grumpiness that goes with it but in an age where we can send autonomous rovers to distant planets, how come when it comes to some of the simpler things in life, we seem to be going backwards?

How many combinations exist for opening the top of a bottle of hair shampoo or shower gel? And, given nobody wears glasses in the shower, why do they make shampoo and conditioner look exactly the same?

Why do we have passports that are said to be valid for 10 years if we can’t use them unless there’s at least six months remaining on them?

Why can’t we have packets of biscuits that can be opened in less than ten minutes without a can opener?

 

Bill 😊

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I usually open packets of biscuits by slicing between two biscuits with a sharp knife. Although it can be a bit awkward with custard creams usually end up slicing one in half....🤣🤣

one that made me go erm today was the logic of some movies.

Heroine empties four clips of bullets from a 9mm weapon into the monster with no effect. she then runs into the kitchen and starts throwing plates at it.

If forty odd bullets won't stop it what makes her think cheap crockery will.........🤭

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Sounds like the Russian version of "outbreak".

So another erm moment.

Those packages that have a little note saying peel here which lets you take the outer plastic from around the edge leaving you with a loop of plastic and no way of getting into the package apart from with a hacksaw.

 

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15 hours ago, Observer II said:

Been trawling Netflix lately, trying to find a believable film, and one without the gender and racial diversity PC nonsense.   So looking for a bit of escapism, I found a Russian (dubbed) film (To the Lake), and blow me, it was all about an epidemic.    😷   :rolleyes:

Have you tried the Danish & Swedish thrillers on BBC iplayer Obs.  There are subtitles but our Nordic language skills are improving.                                                  

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Half the time I go to Netflix I end up just trawling through so much that I don’t want to watch I end up giving up. And when you do find something that looks vaguely interesting, it usually turns out to be a series where you’d need to commit half your life to watching. It’s just the same on Prime, they seem to insist on mixing films with series which really winds me up.

On the normal telly though, what I can’t stand is those programs covering stuff like emergency rescues, immigration checks etc where rather than just covering two or three separate stories, they constantly bounce back and forth recapping and repeating everything. I don’t think I’ve got Alzheimer’s yet but when I do, I’ll know the best programs to watch. 😊

 

Bill 😊

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I get it through the smart tv i think. not really explored all the  options on that thing yet. all sorts of extras on it that i have yet to look at.

watch Youtube on the pc mostly Wednesday or Thursday as I watch some guy who solves puzzle boxes and such. One he did he paid over £18,000 for.

also the russian driving ones can be quite enlightening......😲

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I watch air-crash investigation ones, to re-inforce my desire never to set foot on one of those infernal machines ever again 😲🤤

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Here’s something I found on YouTube last night, from back in the 90s. It’s a short review by someone about the little box of tricks that I started my business with. And you even get a bit of me thrown in at one point. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GkMp_AFKxk

These were originally made for radio amateurs but many found their way into commercial use within the shipping industry and the armed forces.

 

Bill 😊

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Very interesting Bill. There lots of boxes of tricks appearing around the time which seemed to have a short shelf life before a newer and cleverer box of tricks came along. When I started in the MN in 1967 some lucky ships had Decca Navigators, which was developed in WW2 for military purposes. At the time the sets could only be rented and it was a short range idea. It involved reading parameters off a machine and plotting them on a chart to give your position. Then the early 90s came along, Decca's copyright ran out and machines appeared that could be bought cheaply and had a direct readout of latitude and longitude plus other navigation applications. Another similar, but long range radio navigation aid, was Loran-C which I only came across on one ship. We dubbed it "ERNIE" (Electronic Random Numbers Indicator Equipment), I don't remember every successfully getting an accurate position out of it. Later improvements and the use of computer technology has improved this to the extent that Loran e (the new name) can be used as an alternative/backup to GPS.  The world doesn't stand still, well done for being a part of the roll out of technology Bill 👋

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Yes the technology moves very fast Asp, so much so that if your not careful a product can be outdated before it even gets to market. People often said to me why don’t you patent that, to which the answer was always it’s not worth it because I’m already working on a better one.

I remember the distinctive sounds of Decca Navigator and Loran-C just off the end of the dial of our old AM wireless. You might be interested to know that a link to shipping was responsible for moving my business away from the amateur market. The little box in that video was one of several that I designed and although it didn’t show this, it would quite happily decode the Navtext service used by shipping around the UK and costal Europe. At the time, I think BT ran this service and one day they called to tell me that my cheap little box was outperforming their mega expensive professional equipment, and not just by a bit but almost a factor of ten.

Back then there were a lot of odd sounding data type signals floating round the airwaves and decoding them was always a challenge. One unit that sold very well right around the world simply translated code sequences into plain text, sort of a super high speed lookup table and this would give weather data and precise location from ships, aircraft and weather balloons. There will be a photo somewhere.

Ey up. It’s turning into the story of my life. :)

image.jpeg.65ad8dc1d60dccdca1cd27f9f7d4399d.jpeg

The aircraft enthusiasts used to love these as at the time this was the only way they could track a known aircraft and get it's speed, altitude and outside air temperature. Sea reports came mainly from shore stations and weather ships and gave surface temperatures, swells, visibility etc.

 

Bill :)

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Navtex is a compulsory item for all ships these days, but it's printed directly to paper as you have to have the ability to keep a record. Interesting in that it's only transmitted on one frequency so a system is used where each transmitter is given a slot in the schedule to avoid interference. It's used for weather, navigation warnings and search and rescue messages.

 

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4 hours ago, Bill said:

Here’s something I found on YouTube last night, from back in the 90s. It’s a short review by someone about the little box of tricks that I started my business with. And you even get a bit of me thrown in at one point. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GkMp_AFKxk

These were originally made for radio amateurs but many found their way into commercial use within the shipping industry and the armed forces.

 

Bill 😊

I have looked at that box many times in Practical Wireless and tried to justify getting one back in the day. I always thought that most amateurs were pretty hopeless at accurate keying with the exception of the RSBG news. I wonder if the newer uses benefitted from automatic keying. Either way round it was a good idea so well done.

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Yes, well our little box did have a serial printer port but despite it being the best Navtext decoder out there, it was only for hobby use and wouldn’t have complied with the regs needed for commercial use. I also seem to remember that all intercontinental ships were equipped with automated morse code sending equipment for use in an emergency and that radio officers also had to be able to use morse even though it was rarely used.

Another little related story was that one time we got involved with a company that wanted us to develop a morse decoder for aircraft landing systems. The id for each waypoint beacon and airfield used to be transmitted using slow morse on a low frequency and this had led to several dangerous incidents. Unfortunately, most of those we were working with were killed in a light aircraft crash in Cumbria and the project died along with them.

These days, we don’t worry about products becoming outdated because we don’t manufacture them anymore and instead, it’s just software on a throwaway mobile phone.

Such is life these days.

 

Bill 😊

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Confused

Some people just can’t ever send good morse code and even some of the so-called professionals are pretty bad as well. It’s all down to having a sense of rhythm and if you’ve not got that then you’re never going to be any good at sending. Decoding hand sent morse is a bit like decoding handwriting where everyone writes in their own unique way. My original prototype ran a couple of characters behind and so could adjust to anything a bit iffy but doing this wasn’t acceptable in the finished product where it had to display real time. So nothing for it but to cheat!

If you look carefully, you’ll see it’s doing a lot of displaying what was meant and not actually what was sent and by allowing for all the common timing mistakes and keyword, it’s possible to make it half decent. That was all done back then with an 8032 processor at 8Mhz 32k rom and no external ram, while these days a modern device could do all this as a background function.

The synoptic decoder took the RS232 from the main decoder and translated it in real time. The original data appeared as large groups of numbers and letters which if anyone had the time could be looked up in several different manuals depending on what bits you were interested in. When it was expanded out there was masses of data, far to much for a small lcd screen so it needed to be used with a monitor. I’ll try and fins some raw data.

?id=114733X1614362&isjs=1&jv=14.4.0-stackpath&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.radioenthusiast.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fweather-by-all-means%2F&url=https%3A%2F%2Fazure.wgp-cdn.co.uk%2Fapp-radio-enthusiast%2Fposts%2Ffig1mmjuly.png&xguid=&xs=1&xtz=0&xuuid=cdbfaac0b419e39791b504b632255b2d&cci=2fabdc5d78dd6c6eb19db5c7cdfcc5fa

This is what gets received from the decoder before the translation. It's exactly the same alpha numeric synoptic data which ever mode was used to send and receive it, including ACARs. Interestingly despite how long ago I developed this, I still cant find anything that does the same and watching videos about it, trainee piolets are expected to interpret this information in their heads.  

 

Bill 😊

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Ship's Radio Officers all but disappeared in the 90s, except for on passenger ships as satellite communications took over their role and shipboard equipment became easy enough to use so that even us thick Deck Officers could manage it. Most RO's retrained to become electro-technical officers or even as Deck or Engineer Officers.

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1 hour ago, Bill said:

Confused

Some people just can’t ever send good morse code and even some of the so-called professionals are pretty bad as well. It’s all down to having a sense of rhythm and if you’ve not got that then you’re never going to be any good at sending. Decoding hand sent morse is a bit like decoding handwriting where everyone writes in their own unique way. My original prototype ran a couple of characters behind and so could adjust to anything a bit iffy but doing this wasn’t acceptable in the finished product where it had to display real time. So nothing for it but to cheat!

If you look carefully, you’ll see it’s doing a lot of displaying what was meant and not actually what was sent and by allowing for all the common timing mistakes and keyword, it’s possible to make it half decent. That was all done back then with an 8032 processor at 8Mhz 32k rom and no external ram, while these days a modern device could do all this as a background function.

The synoptic decoder took the RS232 from the main decoder and translated it in real time. The original data appeared as large groups of numbers and letters which if anyone had the time could be looked up in several different manuals depending on what bits you were interested in. When it was expanded out there was masses of data, far to much for a small lcd screen so it needed to be used with a monitor. I’ll try and fins some raw data.

?id=114733X1614362&isjs=1&jv=14.4.0-stackpath&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.radioenthusiast.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fweather-by-all-means%2F&url=https%3A%2F%2Fazure.wgp-cdn.co.uk%2Fapp-radio-enthusiast%2Fposts%2Ffig1mmjuly.png&xguid=&xs=1&xtz=0&xuuid=cdbfaac0b419e39791b504b632255b2d&cci=2fabdc5d78dd6c6eb19db5c7cdfcc5fa

This is what gets received from the decoder before the translation.

 

Bill 😊

I did notice that there was the occasional delay and extra spaces thrown in, perhaps they were hints for the knowledgeable.

I never used an 8032 or any 8051 family device but I did do 50kbyte of 8080 in a combination of Coral-66 and ASM-80, mainly the latter. It was a fearsome beast on in-house designed CPU, I/O and memory cards with professional cassette storage for backup of data. It was fully duplicated and designed to run 24/7 with automatic recovery. Its design purpose was real time call routing in a telephone exchange. It communicated with a hundred or more slave 8080 processors to handle calls on an existing switch. With our kind of experience I find we have a different outlook on the world of computing where we expect to be able to understand the whole system in a way which later generation do not expect of understand. It was just possible to understand more of what were simpler systems back then but it gave us a different perspective and it often modifies our view of newer technologies. In particular I think we are less happy with black box approaches. It is fascinating that you have a similar background.

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Yes it’s a very different world today with so many fields, it’s not surprising I find myself feeling a bit lost at times. Maybe coming from an electronic background with little programming experience helped me to gain a better understanding of the internal workings of processors because to me, that’s where the real magic happens.

I think I said this before, but I believe that in order to make something new or significantly better, you can’t just follow what others have already done. See problems as a challenge that needs to be overcome rather than a reason for not doing things. The Navtext performance I mentioned earlier would never have happened if I’d have taken the easy route. Ok I cheated a bit with the CW but the Navtext would read 100% perfect, even when the signal became completely inaudible in the background noise and this genuinely caused people to say that’s just impossible. I wrote the stuff and even I could not believe how well it turned out.

I’m not trying to blow any trumpets, but just to say we all have it in us to do something creative and different if we approach things without preconceptions or play follow my leader.

 

Bill 😊

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  • 2 weeks later...

A couple of more things to add to my grumpy list.

Warburtons crumpets. Why on earth don’t they pack them like everyone else. I can’t think of any reason why they need to use atomic welding glue to seal their packets and then have to print explanations of how open them using scissors or a can opener. Then when you do eventually get them out, they’re too bloody thick to go in the toaster. I think this is something they learned after years of making their thick sliced “Toaster” bread that was always too wide to fit into any toaster unless you cut the crusts off. Grrrrrrr

Nivia post shave balm I’ve used this product for years and it’s always come with a distinctive rectangular screw on cap that’s easy to grip. Now some clever clogs has decided we’re loosing too much of our valuable time having to turn the cap a full turn and has come up with a design where it can be closed with less than 10 degrees of rotation. To tighten anything with such a small movement obviously requires a lot more effort, so what do they do, they replace the rectangular cap where you could at least get some leverage, with a small smooth round cap that makes it near impossible for someone like me to open. Double Grrrrrrrrrr.

 

Bill 😊

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