Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Don't Try This At Home (or Anywhere)

It's good to take a few precautions before working on an electronic device:

1) Take all the screws out of the chassis and throw them into the trash since you are going to drop them on the floor and lose the tiny little fuckers anyway. Might as well take out the trash while you're at it. Check the litter-boxes too.

2) Check inside the device for capacitors. Depending on the gear, a capacitor can hold a dangerous, even fatal, electrical charge. If you don't know how to identify a capacitor, go fetch the screws out of the trash and put whatever you are working on back together before you hurt yourself.

3) Is it plugged in? Working on live electronics can be extremely hazardous. On the other hand, I like to see the moving parts in action and monitor the changes I make in 'real-time', so I usually make sure whatever I'm futzing around with is plugged in. This is severely un-recommended.

I recently acquired an old DVD player that no longer has a remote control; it is impossible to navigate a DVD menu to watch a movie, but it works fine for music CDs, so I hooked it to my stereo. After a day or two, the drawer stopped opening on command, so I took it apart to check it out.

Notice that there is a warning on the inside about the laser radiation hazard. I peeked underneath the little hood-thing and saw a bright red laser- if I had unplugged the device as recommended, I never would have been able to see where the laser was. Stupid warning label.

I also found the problem. That little green tab in the upper middle needs to be depressed in order for the door to unlatch. The motor that does that seems to be broken. After some experimenting, I found that having a disc in the player provided sufficient weight to 'push' the green lever. With a disc in the player, it opens and closes as normal. If the tray is empty,you need to take the thing apart and manually press the button.

Solution: Always leave a disc in the tray as a placeholder.

Come to think of it, the person who gave me the player found a DVD inside of it when it was given to them. Perhaps the previous owner had figured out the 'placeholder' trick.

The new job is off to a rolling start. Our office is located in a renovated old Public School that is smack-dab inside a notorious crack 'hood. I could look out the window and see deals going down on the far end of the street, but I didn't want to tell my boss that I can spot a drug deal from 100 yards away, I need a better approach...anyway, the building is difficult to get to from any major highway, it's in a bad 'hood, it has no real loading entrance, no real freight elevator, two flights of steep stairs and it has 20' auditorium ceilings that will probably make heating a real issue- it was freezing today, but I get to work at home because we don't have PCs at the office yet.

If I were assigned to scout the entire City and choose the least-practical space available, I would have chosen our new home...the city is full of empty, modern office space and we have a halfway-renovated antique in the middle of Crack Alley. And so it goes.

For the moment ,we don't have any furniture at all, just a folding card table and four chairs that belong to one of the staff.

We have 25+ people in the field, they send me their email reports and I sort them into Excel sheets and Word docs and re-distribute them...I get to listen to music and stuff, I'm at home after all- but it's still pretty intensive...I'm earning my hours. It's going to be a hard job, but I like the people I work with and this is my third go at it, (1990,2000,2010) so I feel confident that we'll do well.

Tomorrow I will be recording the Gamelan orchestra I mentioned a while back, and on Friday night I have VIP passes to see the band Southern Culture On The Skids (below). .
I used to play in a band with Mary, the bassist (she is not the same Mary who attacked me with a wolf) and it'll be great to see her again...ten or fifteen years have passed since we have seen each other. We used to do some serious graveyard drinking together! Ha!

My buddy DJ Will and I will be interviewing the band backstage. It should be a blast. I hope to get some cool pics and stuff...until then, stay warm!


yellowdog granny said...

with all this computer talk can you tell me how to make my computer quit freezing up and speed up.? it's not even a year old..im sure it's not major, and it's something i can do..but don't know what that is.
glad you are working at home and not watching crack deals out your window..
glad your working...glad your happy...
i looooove my across the universe cd..
i heard a song on sons of anarchy tonight and want to find out who sings it as I WANT IT.ha..
it's forever young, but some chick..is fantastic...

angel said...

i am so excited for you! despite working in a shirty neighbourhood... well, when you do start working there, i can hear an almost happy tone of voice when i read your posts!
dying to see the band photographs!

Lyzard said...

I HATE the cold... I hope you manage to stay warm at your new job when you have to start working in the Crack Alley school.

It's really great to read happy happy posts from you. It makes me smile all over my insides.

Sling said...

I've always worked on VCR's,computers,televisions and such while they were plugged in,for exactly the reasons you mentioned.
The occasional 'wake-up call' usually amounts to little more than a cheap thrill.

Anonymous said...

That is precisely how I work on electronic things, too!