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Maltron Keyboard Retrospective Notes
(& Related Considerations)

Posted under Other Technology at .
Tags:hardware, keyboard (data), Maltron

Having finally worked out how to write blogging software capable of containing the Vosathenik pages, I feel able to publish my page of thoughts about why I didnʼt adapt to the Maltron keyboard. (Apart from a few grammatical edits this was mostly written in late 2014.)

In their defence, I have to say it was probably more to do with the structure of my fingers than anything else. The Maltron keyboard is based on some design principles which reflect usage assumptions which may be valid for some people, but not for me.

Maltron keyboard

1. Long and Short Fingers

Some of us have longer fingers than others, some have relatively long third fingers, and some have relatively short fourth fingers. My impression is strongly that the Maltron was designed for a more even balance. I found using it less comfortable than a standard flat keyboard, partly because of the extra tendon strain involved in keeping my third fingers out of the way. Conversely, with a flat keyboard, I get on reasonably well by angling my fingers over so that they meet the keys with a similar level of tension, though the Vosathenik layout now helps with that.

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HP CP1700 Recovery

Posted under Other Technology at . Last updated 2020-12-05 20:30.
Tags:CP1700, Hewlett-Packard, refurbishment

The CP1700 PS is an A3+ CMYK inkjet printer produced by Hewlett-Packard in the early to mid noughties; which, having had some prior experience of single-cartridge colour inkjets over the previous decade or so, I decided to buy on the grounds (as I recall them) that a) PostScript, b) SRA3-capable, c) separate colour cartridges, d) separate printheads which seemed like a good idea at the time, and e) apparently more fade-resistant inks than Iʼd previously been able to enjoy. Oh how more than slightly wrong I was.

HP Color Inkjet CP1700 top front

Actually, out of the box, it seemed pretty good, printed very well with the PostScript 3 option, and while I thought I might like the extra tray, network connection/server module, and duplex unit, I could do without for the time being. Then as it happened I ended up not using it as much as intended since [life], so I didnʼt add any of the extras. The only big issue with it initially was the big issue. It was physically rather larger than the previous (Epson iirc?) A3 colour inkjet Iʼd used but I managed to put it on its own trolley which at least allowed it to be moved out of wherever it was currently in the way. This is not a shelfable printer.

Then a year went by, and having used perhaps a third of the K cartridge and perhaps a quarter of CMY, suddenly it stopped working one day when I needed to print something. All cartridges supposedly needed replacement. Yet they were clearly not empty. So why? It turned out that the cartridges were time-limited. I hunted for information online, and gathered that they pack up, not on the basis of anything going wrong, but because itʼs been a year since you installed them. And there was no information about options other than replacement. Worse, it seemed the print heads were also time-limited. So I found myself having to buy eight replacements. If I remember, it would have been over £200, an appreciable proportion of the cost of a replacement printer. And it would need the same again in another year? This was not and is not good.

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Photoshop modal dialogue bug

Posted under Other Technology at .

Ridiculous bug in Photoshop (CS4). If you try to load a batch script, the default location appears to be Desktop, and if you happen to have an alias to a server volume there which youʼre not currently connected to (e.g. networkingʼs off or youʼre not at the office etc.) it has a completely modal dialogue box with no cancel button or option to change location, which halts everything and just comes up every thirty seconds or so saying this server canʼt be connected to. The only solution seems to be to force-quit and move your server volume aliases. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to go back to pre-CS Photoshop and never return. Lower processor temperatures too . . . I have no idea whether it persists in later Photoshops and I donʼt plan to submit to a licensing scheme to find out. So Iʼm using the GIMP for the purpose.

too much bang for buck

Posted under Other Technology at . Last updated 2019-08-23 22:52.
Tags:failures, Hakko, hardware, soldering, TAIKD, WEP


blown fuse

Some time ago I needed a new soldering iron. And a heat gun would be handy, but I had little cash spare. Soldering stations with temperature readouts seem to be the thing now, and I can see the attraction. My interim solution was a WEP 852D+ 2-in-1 iron / heat gun. (Which may be a rebranded something else, not sure.) I prefer a more modular approach to tools, but, well. Worst case, I thought, it would do as a heat gun with a fallback iron, and Iʼd pick up a primary soldering station at some point. Initially, all was well, and Iʼve been doing a few essential jobs with it while life beyond electronics gets sorted.

A few weeks ago during my last bout of repairs, the soldering iron handle began to loosen every time it warmed up, eventually falling apart in the hand in the middle of a job. Lacking time to do anything about this, the only immediate solution was to tighten it manually.


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some data recovery

Posted under Other Technology at . Last updated 2019-07-16 01:48.
Tags:failures, software

an experience of recovery from Postgresql database files

Ooh weirdness.

I had a significant drive failure a few weeks ago during backup, which managed to take out both the source and destination drives. OK I should be rotating backups to avoid this problem, check that for the future. Amongst the files was the most-recent-state postgres, and this is tricky. I could have restored from the last dump, but thanks to a months-long bout of illness this was a bit behind.

I managed to recover basically everything else by dint of some older recovery software on an older machine, but as I suspected, just switching the recovered postgres data folder to the new installation didnʼt work. Part of which might be that the recovery software writes all its recovered files under ownership of privoxy rather than the original owners . . . perhaps on the basis that you wonʼt know how to chown, not sure. Or perhaps because the original owners might not be present on the new system, fair enough. Maybe thatʼs enough to prevent postgres starting with the old folder (even with a few configuration tweaks).

So instead I cloned the whole drive . . . slightly overkill for 100-odd MB of database gunk, but hopefully simpler than either figuring it out or trying to reconstruct manually — and I think the latter would be easier of those two. This isnʼt really critical data, just a convenience thing. But it took several hours.

The particular implementation of postgres here is Bitnamiʼs MAPPstack, and this makes one particular option attractive — to run the whole thing again from the cloned drive (which would include the data files), do a dump, and restore to the new installation. Will it work?

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Default to Home

Posted under Other Technology at .

OhhhhhFFs. Oafs. What happened to Firefox? Not surprising its market share has crumbled away, thereʼs so much wrong with it since about version 18 (or 5?) . . . seems now there is no longer any option to really set the default encoding recognition to UTF-8, which means FF canʼt be made to work as a convenient tool to view plain page fragments any more — unless youʼre a Windows-using American, addressing only that part of the domestic Anglo audience which has never had any exposure to either traditional typography or emoticons, to take two examples. How many of that remainder can even read ASCII I couldnʼt say, but thatʼs the market segment Mozilla are catering to here.

Apparently this default is now set in Gecko, and so canʼt be changed in FF about:config. You could recompile it, presumably, if you really wanted to. Oh, and adding a BOM doesnʼt trigger recognition, and the menu option retains the UTF-8 setting on reload even though the display is mojibake — not interpreted as requested. And changing locale doesnʼt make any difference.

Seriously, Mozilla, if you donʼt want people to be able to view fragments and text files, donʼt allow FF to open anything without an HTML header. Then your project can just die off quietly and you can all go home and find something useful to do.  <angry dinosaur emoticon placeholder>

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