Saturday, December 20, 2008

The wind is rising

After a dull and dreary day the wind is now coming out of the north bringing the cold. Oh well, it makes it seem less painful to be house cleaning tonight and tomorrow. At least most of my cold has gone with the wind. I figure it just didn't want to go out walking in the cold with Molly and me any more.

I spent part of the evening tearing open one of my monitors that has been developing a case of the jitters. I don't know about you, but I cannot stand a jittery monitor. Probably because it means that it needs fixing more that the annoyance factor of the jitter. It is amazing how much trouble shooting you can do with some knowledge, a heat gun, a can of spray coolant, and a soldering iron. (Of course having a set of drawers on the back porch filled with odds and ends and replacement parts helps.) At least I got the major part of the jitter gone - if I can find the right size and voltage of capacitor to put in the beast it should be good for another few years.

Every time I open up a piece of electronic equipment and see the excessive metal cages around the high voltage sections and all the safety interlocks, I am reminded how dumb people can be. Back in the old days, a simple label on the case was enough for people to read it and know that they shouldn't be opening the case if they weren't trained. And if they did open the case and electrocute themselves, we figured that was one less idiot in the world. Now we have the idiot label on the case, more labels and a metal Faraday cage on the inside, and more than one safety interlock. And of course as a society we don't repair them anyway. So why not just seal the case and prevent the idiots any entry? I suspect that it is a clash of ethics. The old ethic from the pre-IC days to repair and fix carries on in leaving the access pathways in the product, but the modern ethics of idiocy in a litigious society means that we spend heavily on adding the metal cage and interlocks and ... I have seen the same design principles carried out in even low-voltage devices. Given all the heavy metals used in modern electronics, I'm waiting for the requirement to put a label on devices like cell phones warning idiots not to eat the device. The first idiot to be diagnosed with selenium and germanium poisoning for eating the electronics will undoubtedly sue because it wasn't obvious that the device was not meant for snacking on. And in the brain death of our legal system, he or she will probably win.

Enough half formed ranting for now. I'll save it up until I have a full on rant.


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