Vintage

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Sharp Boombox Repair

Music: 

Tom Petty - Freefallin'

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TV History Time

Music: 

Mojo Nixon & Jello Biafra - Nostalgia For an Age That Never Existed

So this is super interesting. You know, interesting to me anyway.

I'm compiling another week of vintage TV shows, this time from 1963. It's remarkable how easy it is to get the exact episode of many of these even compared to getting episodes from 1980's shows. I'm making a playlist for each night and mixing in 1963 commercials throughout, should be fun. But first, see if you can spot why this week's playlist may present a particular challenge:

As I started out on Sunday night (TVue is boldly not adhering to the TVGuide dictate that Saturday is the first day of the week), I found that while I could find the episode of whatever show I was looking for, the air date listed in IMDB was for like, several months in the future, in some cases as far as March 1964. What the balls IMDB. So it made it kind of tricky to pin down given episodes.

After the 3rd or so show with this happening, I kind of noticed a pattern. Sunday, November 24, 1963 just doesn't seem to exist. IMDB consistently showed "Nov. 17" and then the next episode aired was 'Dec. 1".

So seriously what the he... Oh. Right. Yikes.

My TVue, from the Boston Advertiser, is listing the TV schedule for the week after the Kennedy assassination. I am building playlists to recreate a week of TV which ... ... never existed.

For the record, this being the 24th, we chose Mister Ed, My Favorite Martian and The Judy Garland Show. I got all the right episodes on those, but I'd have liked to have seen the Ed Sullivan Show, but since that's live I imagine it was just canceled altogether. It was supposed to have a Stiller and Meara sketch, so I just picked one of those sketches from another Ed Sullivan. Growing up with Seinfeld it's just so easy to see "SERENITY NOW!", or "I've got a lot of problems with you people!". Genius.

As in my previous week of vintage TV, if I can't find a thing, I'll go for the nearest I can get. So for instance What's My Line on Sunday, Nov. 24 Instead I opted for the December 1 episode with Colonel Sanders. I don't know what was scheduled for that episode, or indeed if it was ever actually shot.

In addition to the JFK assassination horror, one thing that bums me out about this week is that I don't seem to be able to find any episodes of Grindl with Imogene Coca. I really want to see Aunt Edna, but young ('er, she was still in her '50s).

So here's to building a playlist for a TV Guide week that never happened. Obviously this is going to be oddly similar to 9/11/2001, and ... that's about it really. I can't really think of any other week where the machine of commerce would have simply ground to a halt entirely.

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Lots of RDP

Music: 

Annie Lennox - Why?

Do you do lots of RDP? Like lots and lots? I do, and even with password management it's annoying. I tend to use generated passwords for all my normal user, Domain Admin user and obviously Administrator accounts. That means lots of workarounds to deal with those passwords while doing bulk RDP sessions.

A typical use case for me is to RDP to 20 machines at a time, run a thing, wait, and log out. I've always scripted this, but not always in strictly the safest way. Plaintext passwords stored in a script, or read off disk. The philosophy is "if someone can read this script, I've already lost the game anyway", but still it's ugly and sick, and so I fixed it. In my defense, the Red Team never did pop my laptop...

I already use gpg-agent to facilitate unpacking of log files. On my syslog servers I roll logs over hourly, gzip them and then gpg encrypt them to my key. Then I can download a bunch of them, run my logunpack script, enter my passphrase once and since gpg-agent caches that credential for a period of time, decrypt all my files in one go.

What I wanted here was basically a way to have keepassxc.cli "hold the door open" and cache the passphrase like gpg-agent does. So what I've done is to use gpg-agent itself for that purpose. I have a GPG encrypted file containing my KeePass-XC passphrase, and I open it using gpg-agent, so it can be reused until gpg-cache-ttl expires.

I've also always had slightly different copies of this script for use cases of "Fullscreen on my laptop" and "fullscreen on larger displays", so I have a switch here for "resolution" as well. "fs" for fullscreen or "fsbm" for "big monitors". Since I'll never go to my office again, that's pretty much never going to get used. The default for the $res value will remain 1280x960. Reasonable enough.

I also added prompts so that it'll ask for host, domain, user and password if you run the script with no prompts from a shell. So /that/ will be super useful to me when I have to do a one-off connection to some remote host but don't need a whole launcher for it. While I'm at it, I put in the -b switch so that you can have it generate a launcher based on that input. That saves me hand editing a template when I add a new RDP host.

I use Linux, but this should work with minimal-if-any changes on Mac and Windows/Cygwin, both of which can run xfreerdp and gpg-agent. I have a good automated ssh-tunneled RDP setup for my Mac, so I might try using that with this so I can use a 4k display for those "busy RDP days".

Being that I do run Linux, here's how I launch this. KDE desktop files like this:


xrayspx@dummyhost:~/rdps$ cat windowsmachine
#!/usr/bin/env xdg-open
[Desktop Entry]
Comment[en_US]=
Comment=
Exec=/home/xrayspx/bin/rdplauncher.sh -h windowsmachine -d domain -u xrayspx
GenericName[en_US]=
GenericName=windowsmachine
Icon=remmina
MimeType=
Name[en_US]=
Name=windowsmachine
Path=
StartupNotify=true
Terminal=false
TerminalOptions=
Type=Application
X-DBUS-ServiceName=windowsmachine
X-DBUS-StartupType=
X-KDE-SubstituteUID=false
X-KDE-Username=

So anyway, here's the thing: RDPLauncher

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Lindstrom, Minnesota

Music: 

We're currently on a week-long road trip between Milwaukee and Minneapolis. Before we left, we mentioned our trip to Kari Lindstrom, proprietor of our favorite vintage and antique shop The Melamine Cup in Jaffrey, NH, and she mentioned there was a Lindstrom, Minnesota, so we decided we'd head up and see what's what.

So it was that at the end of a long day of Paisley Park, then the World's Largest Ball of Twine (as built by one man), we made our way for Little Sweden and made up there by around 4:00. Even still, we found a great antique store and got some fantastic handmade raised sugar and raspberry jelly donuts that took me straight back to when I was 4-5 years old getting donuts with my parents from a local bakery.

I did try really hard to get to The Sweet Swede to get something sweet for the sweetest Swede we know, but apparently it's not really a thing anymore. Fudge.

Natalie got some great pictures of this adorable vacation town:











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Stereo Slide Viewer Hack Proof of Concept

Music: 

Peaches - The Inch

Wherein there's some history, and a major pet project.

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Today In Donuts Annoying Me News

Music: 

Blur - Coffee and TV

For a couple years now, I've been telling Natalie that if I had a couple bucks and an inclination to build a thing or interact with people, I'd Do It Right. I'd make fresh donuts daily. If I worked at Red Arrow, I'd make the case that the absurd Milford, NH third shift should dedicate themselves to making bread for the rest of the day. Instead, they recently discontinued that shift.

So in that vein... I have a lot of music videos. To go with them, I've downloaded a bunch of '80s commercials for Nostalgia's Sake. Things like cereal, BMX bikes, Underoos, Schoolhouse Rock, and since you can guess I'm from the Boston market, Spags and Dunkin' Donuts.

At Spags, they'll save you money:

These old commercials, pre and post Fred, all tout the freshness of their product. It's the "Freshest you can buy". Then they stopped making donuts on site. There is no longer a fryer in the building at this point. I guess they nuke or salamander their croissant, bagel or muffin sandwich and formed eggs, I dunno they do something to make them hot, but none of this stuff could be mistaken for "fresh".

Sadly, I imagine that by and large, they were right. They /are/ the freshest donuts most people can get. Their 1980, Pre-Fred accusations that "most super markets donuts are made by machine" actually came about in my store in around 1994 or 1995. The day the woman* who fried and filled and decorated the donuts every day moved to Heath and Beauty Aids, which was coincidentally the day before /I/ learned to "make" donuts and muffins.

Muffins were from mix, + any other stuff like frozen blueberries, cinnamon apple chunks or cranberries or whatever else we'd mix in. Muffins were easy, but donuts were even easier. They came in frozen now, so all we did was heat 'em up, glaze them and put them out. We still glazed, filled, sugared, dipped them by hand, and the "baking" process wasn't that bad, they tasted fine, i guess. I never really ate them much. You tend not to want to eat muffins if you're covered in muffin mix for 5 hours every day. Now that I think of it, even though we were frying donuts daily, there's no way that wasn't just frozen dough that we bought in. Don't get the impression these were scratch-made, just rolled and fried on site. When I stopped making donuts and muffins, we had transitioned away form even making the muffins from mix, they now came in as frozen batter in muffin cups and plastic trays. We'd just move them to metal trays, bake 'em and serve 'em up. That was probably '95 or so at the latest.

The couple of times I've gone into Dunkin's (as it's now trying to rebrand itself officially) in the last 2 decades, I've come away with the impression that they don't even do that much anymore. I don't see that there's even room for a table to glaze and decorate anymore. Do donuts just come in all pre-filled and room temperature ready to put out? Like the Krispy Kremes at the convenience store?

There is still a good donut place in our town, but I imagine even they aren't actually scratch-making anything. It's just fresher than Dunkin's. Meanwhile I'm pretty sure the baker my parents went to in the '70s and '80s hand-made everything in his shop from scratch from donuts to birthday cakes.

* - Hey Millennials, here's some trivia: I remember the woman who made the donuts was about 23 or 24, and that she and her husband, who drove forklift as I recall, and with whom she owned a house, had managed to save enough in their water jug full of change to go on vacation in the Caribbean. Just sayin'.

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Antique Desk And Its Dazor Task Lamp

Music: 

This just made me unreasonably happy today, so I am gonna have to share it.

A couple of years ago we found an antique drafting table for pretty cheap money at a local shop, I think we maybe paid $200 or so for it. It had been used and taken very good care of for...80 years? Maybe more? It had a Kilroy on it. So we snatched it and replaced Natalie's less beautiful portable drafting table with it. It's a real monster, like 48" x 36", and great shape, well built, though it does have quite a twist to it. It'll last Natalie forever.

Since then, one problem she's had was getting an adequate task light. She had a plastic fluorescent arm-light, but it was nowhere near long enough to cover the new desk. And, you know face it, it looked like junk.

So the other day we were in another local consignment shop and I spotted a monster arm-light for $25. Natalie didn't like the look of the fact that it was fluorescent (will we be able to get bulbs...) and wasn't sure about the mount, since it didn't clamp, it looked like it screws to the desk. As is my way, I needled her for a couple days and let it work on her that she needed to check it out. No one's gonna stop making fluorescent bulbs, and even if they do, so we get an LED adapter, or just rewire it all the way to the plug for LED. Today she went back and grabbed it, and score, it was on sale, now $18.

We hadn't really looked at it, but turns out it's a Dazor from 1950. As we were trying to figure out how this was supposed to attach (none of the hardware was there), I figured we could get a couple of set screws with wingnuts and big ass washers, drill the desk (Natalie was not a fan), and just bolt it in.

So she started measuring up the distance between the screws, and found that they exactly matched the existing holes someone had already drilled in the desk. We were just re-uniting the drafting table with it's long-lost lamp!

The table top had to be turned around so the holes were at the back, so that was an hour well spent, but it all lined up and she dropped right in. Now it's at that point that I thought it was too cool and started writing this post. However, interesting bit of trivia, Dazor was founded by Harry Dazey, of the Dazey Churn and Manufacturing company in St. Louis. We happen to have a good-size collection of Dazey ice crushers, a can opener, and one of what's probably a small handful of portable stands that are left in existence. This makes Natalie super happy, because we've completed the Dazey set finally.

So here we are, desk, lamp, and ice crusher:

The thing that impresses me the most about this is that in the spare parts section on Dazor's site they list all the various switches and ballasts so you can repair your lamps. Not only are ours still fully in stock, but they've only got 7 listed switches and 5 ballasts, which I'm sure cover virtually every product they've ever made. Simplicity and rugged construction = happy customers forever.

Not only were these lamps built to outlive your granddad, and they did, obviously, but you can still get parts for 'em if they ever do let the magic smoke out! Right from the manufacturer. Try that with literally any other product, especially now. Man. I mean, I get that if you make a lamp, and that lamp lasts forever, then you never sell another one to that customer, and your company dies. But the other side of that coin is that you end up the standard in task lighting, forever, with multi-generational product loyalty.

We'll probably end up buying brand new Dazor lamps for spaces like our office workbench once it's built, and I fully expect them to last just as well as this one clearly has.

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Roadside America

Music: 

Natalie and I are on a kind of meta-road trip. We're not actually going to see The Thing, but we're seeing the roadside attractions which have sprung up around The Thing to amuse and draw in visitors.

Today we went to Roadside America, which is a massive O gauge model railroad layout. 6000 feet, assembled over 60 years of one Laurence Gieringer's life, from when he was 9 until he died.

Natalie took tons of photos, but I put up 3 short videos covering about 15% or so, along one short edge:

Mine, mountains, farms:

The zoo:

Midcentury Downtown:

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Twin Peaks Was Definitely In The Stargate Universe

Music: 

*** SPOILERS FOR BOTH STARGATE AND TWIN PEAKS (1990) ***

Natalie and I have watched all of Stargate from the movie through the last episode of SGU, having interleaved where appropriate so we were watching the different shows in the proper order with relation to each other (we did the same thing with all the Star Treks). We're just now watching Twin Peaks for the first time for either of us, because we'd always heard it was good, they're doing a new series, and because this is what we do. See also: Magnum, Miami Vice, Knight Rider, and any number of other 80s series we've gone all the way through.

Anyway.

We're on Season 2, Episode 2 and have decided that a joke we've been making for a couple of episodes must be true. Major Briggs is absolutely General Hammond's cover ID.

Evidence:

- He's the only "obvious" military personnel in the town, and doesn't work very far away. Any other ranking military would have non-military covers, like O'Neill and Carter have on the show, not to mention Murray. Regular enlisted are not permitted to leave the base, which could well be the case on Stargate. Uniformed military on Stargate is only shown off-base if there's some actual emergency.

- It's the only thing that makes certain characters make sense. Log lady's messages, etc. The fact that Deputy Andy can't conceptualize how "tape" works, he's clearly either a Goa'uld or is just a straight up alien like a human from Abydos or something.

- Just started writing this when General Hammond started his talk about the fact that part of his extremely top secret job involves monitoring other galaxies with radio telescopes. Which is both sort of Carter's cover and obviously they do monitor Ori, Pegasus and whatever galaxies the SGU ship has seeded with gates or whatever.

I can absolutely imagine General Hammond having this talk with some random townie. The Ori could definitely be talking to the Log Lady through her log.

I've found that other people have had threads on this topic over the years, and I have to say, I love that it took an entire movie + multi-show franchise years after the fact to make sense of Twin Peaks.

Of course, if The Giant is actually an Arquillian, or Mr Homm, that would make Star Trek or MiB also de-facto Stargate spin-offs, which I can probably defend if I had to. But the Stargate Universe theory fits so, so well it refuses to be ignored.

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1980s Nightmare Fuel

Music: 

A couple of our friends recently got two 1980s Jill dolls from Goodwill. The dolls spoke and moved, and were controlled by a proprietary multi-track cassette tape. The tape had the audio for the "conversation", and another track that controlled the movement.

The dolls they got didn't have tapes, but they were able to find one online. Here's the result. I strongly recommend using closed captioning on the first one.

Talking about a slumber party, remember to bring /your/ PJs too:

Man this is creepy:
...I just knew you would, we always have such a fun time at parties.

Wait! Cathy says she's going to wear some really wild pajamas (?). By the way, don't forget to bring /your/ PJs. And a teddy bear. We can't have a slumber party without a teddy bear. And bring a jhgfdlhg too. Cathy's not here yet, but I think we should go ahead and change into our pajamas anyhow. Afterall, this is a slumber party, not that we're actually going to sleep or anything. In fact, I think we should try and stay up all night long.

Was it Suzy or Steven?

Here's the commercial from back in the day, which I don't remember even a little:

I definitely wouldn't be able to sleep knowing that doll was in my house. I do wonder how hard it would be to rip out the proprietary tape and replace it with like an Arduino that feeds the audio tracks from WAV files or something. It looks like it has to seek the tape though because it reacts differently if you give a correct or incorrect answer, so that might be the nail in that idea.

Dave should have the tape drives running in tip-top shape soon enough, though I like the creepiness of these pre-tuneup runs more.

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