Ravioli and More Electrical Disasters

This afternoon, I went to my parents' house to make Pasta for the Christmas Eve dinner. It's one of the few family traditions we have; almost every year we dust the dining room table down with flour, get out the pasta rolling machines, and make a few hundred ravioli. It takes the best part of an afternoon, you have to work quite fast, and the final product doesn't keep very well. They need to be stored separated on floured trays, and turned twice every day to avoid sticking to each other or the trays. However, they should taste delicious tomorrow night. Some past photos.

In-between making ravioli (and fixing computers), I was dispatched to fix the broken light above our work table. As suspected, it was the dimmer fuse that had blown (in fact, decimated). So, in with a new one, and I had to re-mount the dimmer. I could see that the dimmer was terribly designed — the top mounting screw comes really close to the circuit board, and right at the edge of the board is the un-insulated fuse holder. This got me mumbling something about bad design, and very gingerly using insulated tools on the screw. Here's a diagram:

Dimmer Diagram

Obviously, during the mounting, the mounting tab will come really close to the board and fuse holder. Naturally, that happened, and there was a very loud bang. The circuit board trace next to the holder had burned through. Hmph. How one earth did they get this certified as safe for home use?

I suppose it's also another reminder not to work on live circuits. I've had enough of those reminders in my life...

Dimmer Back Dimmer Top

CS Lecturers and the real world

People complain that I’m too fixated on being right. Sure I am, but I am right, dammit! :-)

In my CSC3002F lecture yesterday, our Networks lecturer asked the class to name an application protocol that uses UDP. Silence. Eventually, I piped up “DNS”, as I get very bored in slow lectures, and just want them to get a move on…

No, he doesn’t like that.

OK - maybe DNS isn’t an application protocol, I mean, it’s a function of the IP network… So I suggest VoIP.

Am I sure?”

Pretty damn sure!”

Well, I think you’re wrong, it would be TCP, because you don’t want voice packets arriving out of order. The answer is SNMP, as I showed you in my foil on tuesday.”

GRrrr! Some lecturers need to get out into the real world, and see what people are doing. VoIP is considered the textbook example for UDP, packets can be lost without too much trouble (humans have built-in error detection and correction), out of order packets can be dropped (for the same reason), and any attempt at flow control would be a problem (you’d need to change codec).

Always remember to give the transformer a nice jacket

Somehow the electrician thought that putting the halogen transformer under the insulation would be a very good idea, that way it would stay warm, very warm.

Silly git.

Melting Transformer

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