Great Byte North

LegoLass goes to Ottawa

September 09, 2023

Meet LegoLass. LegoLass is one of the most famous all plastic drag queens in the world. She's got so much plastic in her that some might call her completely fake. But she's as real as it gets and she wants to share her journey to our nations capital with you.


LegoLass's journey started out a bit rough at the Museum of Nature. This place was full of many marvelous animals, however often they appeared a little too interested in her. While she's likely not going to be a tasty treat for our very distant relations she isn't too keen on time travel.

Dinos are scary

Legolass soon also learned just how much poop a dino can make. Needless to say this won't be appearing in her act anytime soon. The cost alone for so much coprolite would be a little excessive.

Dino poop is scary

Things improved soon after this when LegoLass made a friend. The sign said not to feed the Dino's but LegoLass, having never seen Jurasic Park, felt she knew better.

Don't Feed the Dinos

Thankfully these friendly herbevores were happy to give her a lift.

Dinos are Friends

Sadly the ice age was next and LegoLass had to find a new friend. Unfortunately this fellow was not interested. LegoLass was hurt but knew she'd find better friends anyways.

Mamals Snubbed LegoLass

LegoLass soon arrived at the bird cages and was amazed at the beauty of the eagles and owls. If only she had wings, she could share her message of stylish love to everyone in the land!


The actic came next and a great exhibit. They don't make algea like this anymore!


The next great creature she found was the muskox! She was getting a strange look from him however and decided to beat a hasty retreat to warmer waters.

LegoLass meets the MuskOx

In the meritime exhibit LegoLass go to see just how big the blue whales are. She's pretty confident this was not to scale but she's no expert in whale biology.

Whales are scary

That was the end of her adventures at the Museum of Nature. After many hours she was beat and headed back to her hotel for a well deserved sleep.

The next day LegoLass decided to go visit some historical buildings around Gatineau. She found this lovely early building from 1825! The oldest building in Gatineau according to a lovely tourguide!

Old House

Next up on the tour was visiting Rideay Falls, Rideau Hall, and the house of the Prime Minister! Sadely the Prime Minister was not interested in meeting celebrities that day.

Rideau Falls

Rideau Hall

Prime Ministers House

Next up on the tour list was to visit Parliament. Unfortunately like the rest of Ottawa it was under construction. Her guess is that a wild animal got loose and they had to repair the building afterwards!


Out in front of Parliament was a monument that she thought would make a great place to pose for some photo's. Sometimes LegoLass doesn't make the best choices.

LegoLass in a Canon

The last place to visit was the Supreme Court of Canada. LegoLass thinks they might not be very proud of their building since they forgot to put their name on it. But she'd stil be willing to work there, the judge's chairs fit her nicely!

Judges are scary

Finally at the end of another long day LegoLass decided to go get supper. The portion sizes here are a little out of control!

Buritoes are scary

On her last day she decided to explore Gatineau and stopped to pose in front of the lovely fountains at L'Hotel de Ville.

Fountains are scary

Sadly like all things her trip to Ottawa must come to and end. She helped herself to a truely epic sized tea on the train home.

Teas are scary

Tags: Writing Lego

Breaking up the Ship of Theseus

July 03, 2023

I'm a repairer. I enjoy fixing things. Nearly everything I own I've taken apart to a certain extent. Over the years I've come to understand more about this obsession for me and it really comes down to:

  1. A desire to learn.
  2. A desire to waste less
  3. A desire to preserve

My early desire to fix was because of a desire to understand and learn how things were built. Often this is still where the inspiration comes from for me.

The desire to waste less is a secondary reason in many cases. I worry about the garbage we generate daily and wish to reduce my overall impact.

The desire to preserve is a more emotional one, as I think most preservation is. For me often this comes from not wanting to let go. I hold onto objects because I feel an emotional connection to them, they remind me of events or people just the way that scents or photographs do for others. This is part of the reason why I have only owned one car. It's 24 years old now and I have no plans to let it go, I'll just keep fixing it.

As a professional in the field of electronics I also have unique opportunities to repair that most people do not. I am able to talk with experts and learn how to do repairs on complicated electronics myself. This is in some ways no different than learning machining so you can fix something. However there are things that even I cannot fix and indeed nobody on earth can fix: Micro-circuits.

This realization started when I decided I'd really like an iPod classic, 5th generation. I bought a couple broken ones thinking that surely I, a person with experience in electronics design and fabrication, can repair them. However with complicated components failing like amplifiers, processors, etc. and each one being unique and no longer in production, there is little to nothing I can really do short of amalgamating mutliple units together to attempt to create a functioning one. With the complexity of modern solding this is also rather difficult. A board with BGA SMT components on both sides is much more difficult to reflow, as even the manufacturer would have glued the components down to keep them from dropping off. This creates additional complexity as at a minimum flux is required under the components to allow the solder to reflow and wet properly. Clearly this level of complexity, even in the mid 2000's, is not a maintainable level. Not that this is news, but everything is disposable when it has complex microelectronics in it.

I recently asked Jack Ganssle about the recyclability of embedded electronics and if there's been any progress. His answer was no, and that this isn't something that's likely to ever happen. This matches my own thoughts, there just isn't any incentive from governments or consumers to do it. Plus it's a hard problem to solve because of the high level of integration that prevents repairability. Our relentless march for "progress" is a major part of this problem. In the days of 74 series logic it was easy to replace components as they were relatively standard but now devices are frequently made obsolete. This is a major difficulty even in developing new designs, often at work we need to replace obscolete parts even before the design is finished.

I think this is why I often shy away from adding complexity to a project these days. Unnecessary complexity only adds maintenance costs and a likelihood of something failing.

I'm not sure what the answer is since we're in a continual arms race for superior technology. Perhaps it's world peace.

Tags: Writing, Repair, Electronics

Updated Site with BashBlog

April 03, 2023

I've become rather unhappy with the complexity of using wordpress to manage this site and have been feeling like it's taking away from me even wanting to work on it. So I began a search for a static site generator that provided me with the traits I desired. Mainly that it be very simple and that it will last. My worry with learning a new system is that in 10 years I need to learn some new system. In general learning isn't a problem, but if I learn something specific to only that tool, when it's gone that information is useless.

Now i'm sure wordpress will linger on forever, but it's tough to tell with a lot of other tools. Since I don't want to become the maintainer of a tool it means that the best solution is to find one that is simple enough I can maintain it while learning something valuable.

To that end I've decided to start publishing this site with the wonderful tool created by Carlos Fenollosa called bashblog.

It's a complete bash blogging tool that makes use of standard unix tools, bash, and not much else. It covers exactly my needs:

  • It's very simple
  • It works
  • I can fix it while learning a useful skill (bash scripting)
  • It can handle markdown (Note entirely sure I'm always going to use this)
  • It can create an RSS feed

That's pretty much it. We'll see if this ends up being the permanent solution or not. Some things that I've already identified as improvements that I'd like to make include:

  • Creating a post directory for posts to be stored in
  • Creating an archive file of the site to upload
  • Provide automatic image resizing with automatic linking to the full resolution image
  • Remove the need for both html and markdown files for posts.
  • Provide support for static non-blog pages, that use the same header and footer as the blog

After that it should be mostly complete. Once I have my changes cleaned up I'll probably post them as well.

Tags: Writing

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