The good, the bad and the otherstuff

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So, good news first, eh?

I am going to go and spend the afternoon doing data collection. Yay. Err, or something. No, seriously, I thought that retrieving the data for the study was going to spiral into this infinite nightmare, but actually? It’s going okay. I need to go in today for a few hours and hopefully it shouldn’t be too traumatic. Then tomorrow I can start to enter it for processing. My original-modified plan suggested I’d stick it all in a database on the computer, but I can’t get it from there into SPSS easily and I had to submit the data collection form for approval which is less easy to do with a data collection database.

The amplifier has arrived, and very nice it is too. Theoretically. It’s not like I’ve turned it on or anything, I’ve just looked at it and made a list of some of the bigger electrolytic caps (mainly power supply ones) to replace before I turn it on. I’ve even found a company that makes new electrolytic decoupling capacitors, and is not priced in the same range as many of the other audiophile ones (£30 for one fricking capacitor? That’s more than the amp cost!). And all you audiophiles can duke it out over whether using electrolytics as decoupling capacitors is a good thing or not. Me, my fig is ungiven. I just don’t want it to go ‘bang’ when I turn it on. Sadly it’s only got European mains capability, so when we go to Canada it’ll have to go, however lovely it is. But the teak and green vinyl case is quite pleasant, especially for a home-made case. And I’m just happy that I can listen to music (in the near future) in the library, without headphones on.

The new amp

I’ve also got a list on Farnell at the moment of capacitors I want for the rest of the supply. Unfortunately I’ve not hit their minimum order price, so I’m hoping that John is wanting to place a Farnell order. Really I want the kind of shop that existed when my dad was a kid, filled to the brim with passive components and such, that you can just wander in and go ‘hey, I want some of these’ and they’ll have ’em. I don’t think they exist anymore tho’, at least, not in this country.

Anyhow, my paranoia derives from this telly:

Ferguson Colourstar Mk II

I loved that telly. It was dreadful in innumerable ways. It had a grand total of four channels which I wisely tuned into the same output signal, that of my video recorder. This is because at the denouement of any TV show it would wander out of tune and you’d get dancing static instead of the fact that would make your film, or show, make any kind of sense. To alleviate this problem, they were all tuned to the same channel and you could leap across the room, hitting the channel selector to catch the vital moment. If you were quick.

It also fluctuated, vaguely, between People Are Lavender, and some strange everyone-is-from-outerspace green tint. It took an age to warm up, and warm up it did, running at approximately the same temperature as a nuclear reactor.

But for all it’s dreadfulness, there was a kind of perverse pleasure in watching TV on something so aged, and so very definitely not of our time. I doubt I’d’ve replaced it even now, had it not gone bang.

It went bang many times through its life. Early colour TVs really pushed their components to the limits, and in the case of mine, as they aged, they wandered past their limits. Indeed, it finally went bang in a sufficiently irreperable way that it ended up going to the tip. I did offer it on freecycle, my post generated a lot of ‘that was a very funny offer, I don’t want the tv, but you almost made me want it’ e-mails, but none who’d love it and take it away and fix it. That made me quite sad. I’d pulled it from the tip in my teens and my dad helped me make it work (having actually turned up at the tip with one exactly the same which I’d salvaged from my school, which had also gone bang in a manner so spectacular that the TV repair shop declared essentially ‘we could fix it, but we’d have to replace every part including the tube’ which seemed excessive).

Anyhow, I recall it having the same type of electrolytic which lurketh in my new amp. I remember it because it went “BANG” and let out magic smoke quite early in the TV’s life. Unfortunately it’s one of the ones I have so far been unable to find a replacement for, an Electrolytic 220nF, 1000V capacitor. Now, I faintly wonder if I can replace it with another kind of capacitor, because you can get 220nF 1000V capacitors, just not electrolytic ones. If anyone fancies enlightening me on this, although you probably want to know what it uses it for, and I didn’t look that closely. I just hunted out electrolytics for replacement.

Also arrived is the watch strap for my Moskva watch.

I feel it now looks very cool on my wrist…

Strappy Moskva

Although, given its current atrocious lack of accuracy it’s pretty much an affectation at the moment. If I want to know the time I actually need to check a device which tells the time. Finding somewhere to service it has proven to be difficult. It never really occurred to me (and you may call me stupid for this) that watch repairers would only repair specific makes. One shop in Bristol alledgedly will look at some Russian watches, but not mine. I’ve so far had one positive ‘we can look at it…but obviously won’t be able to get any spares’ from a shop in Devon. Which is fine… It will have to wait though, because I think I’ve burned through enough cash this month. It’s odd wearing it though, I’ve not worn watches for a long time – this is purely because I wanted one for a specific evening out, and realised that I don’t have one. Then realised that there’s no point in having battery watches because I wear them so infrequently…and that lead to vintage watches, which (obviously) lead to vintage Russian watches (it being me).

I’m quite enjoying the ticking it makes, at least at the moment.

However, in bad news, the much praised media server is…making a warm component smell. I’m trying to decide between chucking in a new power supply and just picking up a crappy second hand PC. One problem is I now won’t touch either DABS* or SCAN** computers. Both have been such shitty companies, which means I’m down to ‘random suppliers’. I need to make a decision though, although I should pull the machine out (I’ve shut it down at the mo) and see whether there’s evidence of capacitor leakage on the motherboard.

On the plus side, Cathedral Pens sent the new ink sac for my little pen, which has been fitted and I shall be trying out later today :)

* Tried to charge me for a delivery the delivery company driver reportedly stole. Repeatedly. Ended up with my bank returning the funds. Tried again a year or two later to get the funds. Won’t go near with a bargepole.
** Treated me like shit when a device they supplied ceased to work a month outside the warranty and well within the UK law’s lifespan of components laws.


Kate is lord and mistress of all she surveys at