Using a non-Tesla EV on a Super Charger

No, there’s no drama, no weird thing. It just works, just like any other CCS charger. Elon doesn’t come out and give a free hand-job while you wait or anything. About the only piece of excitement is the mildly confused looks from actual Tesla owners when you roll up.

Also the charging leads are really really short, if your charging port isn’t on a side it’s unlikely to reach. And if your port is on the “other” side to a Tesla it might be hard to park up if they’re nearly full as you might need to go into the wrong bay for the unit that’s free.

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More Artificial Idiocy

Gmail has a cool feature where it can understand important emails and put things in your calendar.

Except it also does it with spam too…

Although I think this is a mistyped email address, or it’s a very elaborate scam… It’s hard to tell, I’ve had this email address for so long now I can no longer tell the scams, spam and other Internet Herpes from the idiots who can’t spell. I keep getting mail from some church in Australia, I’ve been getting that mail for the past 10 years. I could have said “sorry but you have the wrong person” but it’s a bit late now.

This airline one though, seems legitimate somehow.

There was a “manage booking” button on the email too, but it needs a login.

The Internet is a fucking weird place, isn’t it!

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If you use ChatGPT to help you learn things, you’re an idiot.

So I thought I’d do some research… But I was wise, I know ChatGPT has a bit of a habit of making up stuff. So I thought “I’ll get you… tell me where you get your information from”.

I know, “interesting” and “COBOL” is a big ask…

None of the URLs actually work. They’re all 100% fake. The second response is quite good though – “I made up URLs that look like the kind of URLs you should be looking for when researching this stuff”. So it knows what a URL is, and treats it exactly the same as written text – “you want to know about Cobol? Here’s some words that people string together when talking about this”.

It does this with code too – “when people write database apps, this is the pattern they all seem to follow. You should go look for code that looks like this…”

It’s not giving answers, it’s giving us the shape of what an answer looks like, so when we go and search the web ourselves we know what to look for. It’s drawing the perfect looking but false McDonald’s burger you see on the advert, so that when you get the crushed slop in a box they really serve, you can recognise it.

This folks is why we’re trying to stop kids from using ChatGPT and friends in their work. It generates plausible looking nonsense.

Life must suck as an English teacher, since they’re trying to teach kids how to write their own plausible looking nonsense. “Write me a story that contains a badger, a horse and a trip to the moon”. ChatGPT could do that well, it’d be hard to tell that from a human made up story.

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DofE 2023

It’s late April which means once again I enter the national cat-herding competition. The challenge – set 13 students off on three days of camping and walking to complete their silver Duke of Edinburgh.

Since this is no longer the 1980s and simply kicking kids out of a minibus and saying “see you on Sunday” is frowned upon things are more precise and organised.

We kick the kids out the minibus with a GPS tracker in their bag and say “see you at the camp!” instead. We then follow them about the countryside using the GPS trackers to see where they’re going and checkpoints to .

If the trackers can’t get a signal or our phones have no mobile broadband we then start having to do it old school, predicting how far along their routes they are and finding the closest road to that point to go and wait.

The kids think it’s magic that we just appear seemingly from nowhere. I appear to have perfected the art of arriving at a checkpoint exactly as they do. Almost like I’ve been sat in my car just the other side of a wall waiting, looking at the trackers. Although sometimes it is just good timing and coincidence.

Risk assessment – Risk: Students might get lost. Mitigation: Watch students with tracker, drive around country lanes like a local trying to catch them when they go off course.

Risk: Tracker doesn’t work. Mitigation: Estimate where they probably are, go a bit further along, begin a determined Fitbit pleasing route march/jog up the route until you meet them. This never works, but does guarantee that once you’re about 10 minutes from your car the tracker does update and the kids are stood by your car looking puzzled.

This is a spring/summer activity, so obviously it was snowing on the practise expedition wasn’t it.

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Got a refund from the TV Licensing people!

No really, I did. This is like the “Bank error in your favour” card in Monopoly.

For those of you from far-off lands, the concept of needing a licence might seem a bit weird. A TV isn’t some dangerous weapon that needs careful monitoring, nor is it some large lump of dangerous metal. But we here in the UK have the concept of a TV licence. You might know it by another name – the BBC Tax since the payment of a TV licence is used to fund the BBC. That wholesome and benevolent arm of the government we trust with honest and impartial news, quality programming and an utter lack of adverts.

For those of you in the UK who are so deeply embedded in the culture that tea flows through your veins and you have a red, white and blue mottled look like a stick of rock, the concept of being able to cancel your TV licence might seem a bit odd. Just know you can do it, and it’s only a slightly difficult bureaucratic process where the unmarked part of the TV licence website is in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory – regular British efficiency you’re used to.

I might get pestered with mildly threatening letters in the future when they think I might need to pay them again. The whole thing is kind of comical and so very very British.

But yeah anyway my house doesn’t have a TV aerial and ever since Dr Who turned shit I’ve stopped watching iPlayer and I can’t see the point of paying for a service I don’t use. Also it’s perfectly OK for you to continue paying yours, even if your only reason is to do it out of principle. 🫖

Also notice how I spelled it “licence” consistently even though it say “license” on the letter. That’s because I know how to use my own language…

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Almost UV light from RGBW LEDs

So it turns out the RGBW LED light strip in my living room has some almost-UV component to its blue light. It is almost UV enough to make some things fluoresce quite vivid colours.

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According to Fitbit, gardening is cycling

One of FitBit’s more useful features is its ability to automatically detect exercise. I think it uses a combination of your heart rate and how the device is moving.

The pattern of motion and heart rates must be categorised by FitBit so the app can tell the difference between “swimming” and “running”, etc.

It’s not a precise system though. Yesterday I went skating for a few hours, and then spent the afternoon working on my allotment.

I can see how walking and skating are similar. They both take relatively low amounts of effort and have a rhythmic stepping pattern.

Gardening and cycling though don’t seem that similar. Then I remembered I spent a while using my awesome battery powered rotavator to turn over some of the ground, and I guess the shaking of my arms and the effort of trying to stop the thing escaping looks a bit similar to a bike rolling along a dirt track.

This is a bike now. Probably not comfortable to sit on!
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Accidental Fruit Tart

Attempted to cook a fruit pie, but the pastry I’d made was more like biscuit dough and didn’t want to stay together. Ended up turning it into a giant fruit tart thing instead. Worked out pretty good.

The trick it appears was to leave it to cool down after over cooking the fruit into a sort of jam-like consistency.

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“Good” Morning?

I sleep with my FitBit on. Every morning it tells me how well I slept. For those with other devices (or none!) the way this works is by monitoring my heart rate, motion and blood oxygen level. It then does some magical maths to arrive at a score out of 100.

In FitBit land, a score of “80” means you had a “Good” night’s sleep. In the real world, 80 is not a good night’s sleep. Ever woken feeling like someone filled your head with sawdust and you put the kettle in the fridge? Yeah that’s 80.

Supposedly I also sound like a warthog that’s being strangled. FitBit doesn’t tell me this, my other half does.

So I did some Googling and amongst all the snake oil quack medicine websites out there, and websites for apps trying to sell you a subscription to their dubious systems I found the good old NHS website.

Feed it your height and weight, it spits out “you are overweight, lose five kilos”. It also shows you a free app you can use to help with that. I probably should cut out the excessive sweet things, and I’m quite sure if I went to the doctors about this their first advice would be “get more exercise, lose some weight”.

That doesn’t solve the bit where I feel like death in the morning though. It might do in six months, but not tomorrow night. One website I found did mention propping yourself up on pillows. It also recommended stupid things like sticking a tennis ball to your back – the snoring happens when I roll on my back. I’m not taping a tennis ball to myself every night. I’ll forget to take it off and go to work looking strange.

I can use more pillows though. It was a bit weird the first night, but last night seemed more comfortable. And also reports of their being a warthog in the house have gone down.

I feel less like I’ve been resurrected against my will too (this is why zombies are angry, they were woken up too early) and my mouth doesn’t feel like the cats have used it as a litter tray, so maybe it spent most of the night closed.

Further testing will continue. I have apps that collect data and make graphs.

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Zen and the art of Cross Stitch

“What did you do in the cold dark winter of 2022/23?”
“Oh I took up cross stitch”

Yeah so my partner likes making crafty things, and she does cross stitch. Although it’s a certain style of it. This isn’t doilies and pretty houses with quotes and nonsense under it. This is slightly more NSFW.

Look how happy that sloth is!

I was idly watching her make one and curiosity got the better of me – there was very little to watch on TV – after 30 seconds of explaining I was off making an equally NSFW picture of my own…

I thnk that crocodile needs to be a logo

This is a bit like those arty YouTube channels where they try a new skill, fart around for a bit, then try some large project to show off. Sure, there’s a certain amusement from stitching a dainty little creature that’s shouting obscenities but once you’ve done one the fun wears off a bit.

Then I had a thought. During Christmas I was helping out at a local Christmas activities club, and one of the distraction activities was Hama beads. Those little cylindrical pellets of plastic waste you arrange into a picture, iron and have a wonky looking thing that passes as a bad coaster.

There’s something quite nice about having to concentrate really hard on such a simple task. Copying a design takes zero effort, but getting adult sausage fingers to manipulate tiny bits of plastic requires conscious efforts. Patiently re-starting because you sneeze and flick your design onto the floor, knowing that’s the only option is also quite relaxing.

Makes a 100% total opposite difference to trying to think really hard about programming, or teaching kids how to program. There’s nothing to compile, nothing to debug. And unlike drawing, there’s no real skill involved so you can’t do it badly.

It appears cross stitch is the same, just without the slightly worrying contribution to increased plastic waste. The needle goes in the hole, it doesn’t stab your finger. Maybe you stitch away for half an hour, and realise you started from the wrong hole and now have to patiently unpick it and start over without getting upset and giving up.

I decided I’d do a loading screen from my favourite ZX Spectrum game Rick Dangerous. Here’s the screen

If you listen hard, you can still hear the loading… or is that tinitus?

It’s 256×192 pixels. That’s 49,152 pixels. A cross stitch cross is made from two stitches. It’s a lot of poking a needle through a hole. I’ve got this far after a month.

Cat for scale, no bananas in the house

I’ll finish it eventually, it’s a nice alternative to staring at social media. I dipped into Facebook the other day, nothing exciting is going on. I have a new phone, I set up the wrong account in Twitter and just uninstalled the app.

Take up weird obscure hobbies, the complete opposite to your normal activities. It is quite refreshing.

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