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The T3sk3y Defenestrator

I feel pretty.

I started a new bit of photo-journalism this morning – I’m calling it “30 Days of Bedhead – Follicles Gone Wild”. Here’s how it’s going to work: I’m going to take a self-portrait every morning in April documenting the unbelievable entanglement that is my morning hairdo. Each day, I’ll post the picture from the day before. At the end of the month, I’m making a collage out of it. Call it strange, call it performance art, call it whatever – it’ll be sort of amusing. My end goal is something frameable. Yes, I know today was March 31st – I wanted to post the first one on April 1.

For those that have seen me fresh out of bed in the morning – you’ll get where I’m going with it. Somebody sneaks in at night and beats the hell out of me, every night. While they are at it, my hairdo undergoes a transformation that could best be described as “Getting a Swirlie”. It’s not uncommon to have 3″ irregular tufts sticking up all over.

It should be entertaining – for me, at least. Watch this space tomorrow for the April Fools Bedhead Installment.

PS: Kermit – not that kind of bedhead

First Cameos

I finally got around to taking a few pictures of my “Charlie’s Angel’s” pinball machine tonight. I’ll have more writeup on my restoration progress soon!

Until then.. the pics can be found over at my SmugMug account:

Gottlieb Charlie’s Angels

Discretes being very indiscrete..

I always wondered what went on down in our lab at work when the lights went out…

The secret lives of passive components…

What took us so long?

I’m not going to even attempt to be objective in this post.

THANK GOD FOR THE SMOKING BAN

Look, it’s 2005. Who in their right mind can make any sort of argument FOR allowing smoking to be legal, much less allowed in public places? Yes, I know it’s a slippery slope. Yes, I know some of you are against legislating morality. Here’s my completely biased opinion:

  1. You can eat fatty foods or consume alcohol at a safe level. Smoking? Nope.
  2. My rich diet or alcohol doesn’t affect anybody else unless I choose to exhale the byproducts of that near somebody.
  3. Smoking isn’t moral or amoral. It’s a severe public health risk. Get a clue.

For those unsure about what to do.. here’s a quick link:
Smoking bans around the metro

When in doubt, don’t do it. Your lungs and everyone around you thank you.

Now, lets work on the next step…

Three old ladies live again

As hinted at in the last post, I’m now the owner of a vintage 1978 Gottlieb “Charlie’s Angels” pinball machine. It’s one of the very earliest solid state (that’s “electronic” to the non-techies among you) pinball machines made. In about 1977, pinball companies started switching their electromagnetic machines (the ones with the big scoring reels) over to electronic machines. Some of these early machines, like my other pinball machine – the 1978 Gottlieb “Dragon”, came in both EM and SS versions.

Electronics just weren’t what they are today in 1978 – many of these early designs suffer from some serious design problems and some very fragile parts. The early Gottlieb machines were no exceptions. Many machines are long dead due to catastrophic failures of the CPU board, the driver board, or the power supply. They also put a NiCD battery on the CPU board that had a lifespan of about 10 years. 27 years later, many of these batteries have exploded leaking acid all over the CPU boards. Most boards that sustained acid damage were destroyed with no prayer of repair.

On top of all that, many machines spent dozens of years in bars, bowling alleys, laundromats, storage warehouses, or even barns. That level of neglect causes any number of ills – rotten cabinets, corrosion, warping, flaking of the glass, and so forth. Finally, many a well-intentioned owner applied their own ‘fixes’ to try to keep a machine alive.

My “Charlie’s Angels” machine is typical of many of those old machines – its first 27 years haven’t been kind. When I bought it, it suffered from a variety of ailments including:

  • Acid damage on the main CPU board (minor, but repaired)
  • Connectors hacked off with wires soldered directly to the CPU board
  • A really dicey power supply, probably contributing to some flakiness of the game
  • Dim 6-segment displays – some so bad you can only read them in the dark!
  • A really dirty playfield, covered in black gunk
  • broken or missing playfield parts, such as some lanes, the pop bumper lights and skirts
  • scratched glass and cabinet
  • mismatched head and body – a head from a different game was transplanted at some point
  • Over half the light bulbs were missing or burned out
  • Some bonehead oiled the pop bumpers, causing the aforementioned “black gunk”
  • I guess that’s why the machine only cost me $100!

    I’ve actually been looking for another early Gottlieb System 1 game for a couple of years. With my knowledge of Gottlieb repair and some good spare parts leftover from restoring my “Dragon”, I figured I could take a pretty junky machine and give it new life. With that in mind, here are the pluses:

  • First and foremost – it does work!
  • The backglass is in good shape
  • Most parts are original
  • The playfield is unwarped and in decent – but dirty – shape
  • I know how to fix power supplies, dim displays and other mechanical problems
  • That’s the quick (or not so quick) intro to my latest arcade project – my next installment will update where it’s at today (Hint: the news is *very* good). I’ll be sure to include pictures, too.

    New toy!

    Sometimes cool things just drop into your lap..

    Gottlieb Charlie’s Angels

    More to come.. but she comes home with me tomorrow..

    Because it’s cool…

    It’s amazing how much privacy we are willing to give up just because something’s nifty. For example, Audioscrobbler.

    What is Audioscrobbler? A website that tracks what you listen to on your favorite media player. There are plugins for just about every major player, including iTunes, MusicMatch, WinAmp, etc. It then lists your recent tracks, most popular tracks, most popular artists, and so forth. Based on that data, it calculates your musical neighbors and suggests new music that fits in with your style. This is great because many of the bands that I like aren’t bands that you’d hear on the radio – so how else would you find out about them?

    Privacy freaks – nothing to worry about. The plugins that send data are open-source. You can examine and prove that there are no creepy spyware things going on – and all data sent is anonymous. The system has no idea if you are playing a CD, an MP3, OGG, or whatever.

    Check it out – and please list me in your network…
    Audioscrobbler :: t3sk3y

    Doin’ it to you in your earhole..

    Sometimes you just get lucky when you are doing some idiot-savant web searching. Thursday, I stumbled onto the Live Music Archive. It has thousands of live shows from taper-friendly jam bands, all available for convenient download. I’ve been in my happy place all weekend jamming to my new finds on my Roku Soundbridge.

    Right now, it’s Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe recorded at the House of Blues in 2002. Other great stuff downloaded and listened to this weekend:

  • Deep Banana Blackout – Reunion show from 2004
  • Robert Randolph and the Family Band
  • Soul Coughing
  • fIREHOSE
  • Oh.. and more Karl Denson..
  • Bad bad bad beat

    The fourth Lewis Poker Tournament is now over.. I had my lowest ever finish at 7th place (out of 9). Yeah, I know – that’s not good. If it makes matters better, I went out with a kings full of sevens boat.. that’s a full house with two kings and three sevens (KK777) for non-poker lingo speakers. The board had the three sevens, my opponent had pocket rockets (that’s two aces). So – I got beat by an aces full of sevens full boat. Ugh.

    It was just one of those nights when I never really saw much better than a J-8 in my opening hand all night. When I finally got a K-8 (the hand I lost on), I thought “Here we go!”.

    On the bright side, the guy that took me out got third..

    Defies explanation…

    This one was sent to me by Kermit. It is deeply disturbing to me that he frequents places on the net where you would find things like this. We all need to encourage him to take up golf or something to get his mind off of his dogs at this point.

    Bernese Calendar

    The other really bizarre one was found on my favorite do-it-yourself device modification site, Hack-A-Day.

    Strangely enough, I had a similar idea back in ’91 and decided not to do it as a senior design project in college because.. well.. because I wanted to graduate. My version used a phone line and was not intended for (ahem) personal use.

    XBox Controller Modification

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