Lift

Some excitement this morning; the elevator at my office failed – while I was in it.

I got in, pressed three, the doors closed and the elevator got to about the second floor before there was a kind of ‘thump’, the elevator dropped a few inches, and then began to bounce fairly violently.

I pulled the emergency stop and the bouncing stopped, but the elevator was between floors and the doors wouldn’t open.

Eventually, by using the emergency stop to “turn it off and on again” a few times, the elevator bled down and let me out on the first floor.

I get to work between 0600 and 0630, or about two hours before other folks arrive, so it would have been a fairly long wait for someone to notice the elevator alarm going off – and I wasn’t relishing that idea. But I got out, secured the power to the elevator, and put up out of order signs.

It’s an older hydraulic elevator, so I’m guessing there’s a valve in there somewhere that’s failed… But the elevator guy can figure it out when he gets here.

Listening to "Who's Behind the Door" by Zebra

Processing

Yesterday I decided to put the new laptop through its paces with some complicated video work – just to see how well it performed.

I have a couple of collector’s item DVDs in my collection, and I’ve been wanting to do some fancy video processing on them like cleaning up the NTSC noise, doing some timing work, and upscaling them to 1080p. The M1 Max CPU in my laptop is, in theory, just the right tool for the job.

I started off the evening with a simple transcode of a ‘standard definition’ DVD to H264 using my external USB DVD reader/writer just to see if it was possible… See, even though DVD is basically a dead format at this point, I still need to contend with things like DRM and most of the really good utilities for this aren’t exactly ARM-native code.

It turns out that my old standby, HandBrake, has a beta for an ARM-native version, so I gave that a whirl.

The first pass was a simple read of the stream from the DVD, upscaling it to 1080p with a selection of deblocking and NTSC filters, and writing it out to the laptop’s drive as an H264 file in an MKV container.

It did this at about 116 frames per second, which is about four times the regular playback speed.

Impressive, but I didn’t manage to push the CPU past 30% while doing this; something was being a bottleneck… And that something was the USB2 DVD rom.

So for my next test I ripped the movie from the DVD to a single MPEG2 A/V stream on the local SSD using VLC, then ran HandBrake against that with the above upscaling and filter configuration…

It transcoded a 1 hour and 29 minute movie in 4 minutes 14 seconds.

Wow.

This actually managed to push the processor in the laptop; it did in fact get warm and the fans came on… Not that I could hear the fans mind you, I just got an indication of their RPM changing from zero in Sensei.

Okay, so Apple wasn’t kidding – this thing is fast. So – what else can it do?

I’d recently spotted some development code someone was working on that did machine-learning interpolation of video to upscale the frames per second by adding ‘tweening’ between frames. What this does is dramatically smooth out the motion of the video using “AI”, but it would require getting under the hood a bit in MacOS.

So, I spent an hour or so carefully massaging things to get the interpolation code to run and, it worked! Until it didn’t and my laptop kernel panicked…

The resultant force-reboot and subsequent attempt by MacOS to ‘fix’ what I’d done cratered the OS. Luckily, TimeMachine was available to save the day.

At about 11pm I had the Laptop back up and running from the 5pm snapshot and everything seems okay.

I think I’ll wait a bit before trying the frame interpolation code again. 🙂

Listening to "Hysteria" by Def Leppard

Drive

Having nothing better to do, and being tired of staring at the walls, today I decided to move some funds around and go for a drive…

The route was simple; I-225 north to I-70, then west to Golden.

I spent a lot of weekends at my grandmother’s place in Golden growing up, and part of my 11th grade year as well. And I’ve not been back there in probably two decades – so, why not go sightsee? And from there I’d just randomly make my way back across Denver to home…

The drive would have been nice if it weren’t for all the people. See, I don’t recreationally leave the house unless it’s to head away from civilization – so I don’t get to experience the anthill that Denver has become very often.

Today’s route took me right through Denver on I-70, so I got to see all of the homeless camps everywhere, the perpetual traffic jam on the highways through town, and the general shitshow that is the average metropolis in the 2020’s.

In case it’s not clear, I wasn’t impressed.

Once I got to the west side of Denver though, traffic lightened up and I hit almost 60 mpg as I entered Golden on highway 58. I took the back way to the old house through the subdivision that was springing up at the base of north Table Mesa in ’86; most of the mountainside is now houses of course.

The old house on East street is kind of a dump now and the current owner doesn’t seem to care too much about it. And they were in the garage with the door up, so I felt it would be creepy to stop and take a picture…

I drove from there down the route I would take to school; Ford street to Jackson street to Golden High School.

Golden high School apparently got a remodel some time in the past as it’s no longer the run-down 1950’s campus mess it was when I went there. It’s quite a ways back from the street now, and it actually looks pretty nice. And the parking lot is a lot bigger, so the students don’t need to park on all the streets around the school.

I then followed south Golden road down to 6th ave.

Over the years they’ve added a half dozen roundabouts along south Golden rd, which kind of complicates things that didn’t need to be complicated – but such is the way things go. The car dealership where I got my first car is still there though, as is the McDonalds I used to get lunch at a couple times a week.

As I crossed Colfax I briefly thought about taking it east, back to the Aurora side of Denver, but given how bad the traffic was on I-70 to get to Golden I figured attempting the reverse on surface streets was a really bad idea.

So I took 6th ave east to I-25, past Red Rocks Community College where I took AP data entry and computer science back in 1986…


After I’d aced the placement test, I got to ride a bus over there every other morning to work on professional grade hardware.

It also got me a login for the terminal system they were using for the data entry portion of the class, which I quickly discovered had levels of access…

To make a long story short, this was my first legit “system hack”. I gave myself supervisor privileges on the school’s S/36 by way of finding an overflow in the classroom application’s user menus that caused the session to drop to an unprotected command line…

This led to my getting a talking to from a system administrator… But it was more of a head-pat because he was impressed that I had figured out the S/36 on the fly with no manual or instruction. And this ended with me getting to spend time on the actual mainframe instead of doing data entry – as long as I promised to lay off the hacking.

I did a lot of tape loading, but I also got to write and run some of my own code on the IBM 308X that lived in a pressurized airlocked elevated floor cleanroom. It was basically about as high-tech as it got, and I had access.


Good times.

I headed east on 6th ave and got off on I-25 south, and slogged my way to south Colorado Blvd.

Heading a ways south on south Colorado Blvd. lead me to Action Computers; a place I worked at in 1995. I decided being as I was there I should at least stop in, say hi, and have a look around…

Unfortunately, early Friday someone had backed up to the front doors, wrapped a tow chain around the handles, and pulled out most of the front of the store… They then cleaned out a good portion of the inventory.

So the front of the place is boarded up and there’s not a lot in the store – and neither Mark nor Allen were there to say hi to. So I nosed around a few laptops before heading out and making my way back home.

Home was a bit further south on south Colorado Blvd, east on east Hampden Ave., south on I-25, north on I-225, and then south on Parker rd.

I stopped at the local McDonalds and got a quarter pounder with cheese and some fries, and ate them in the car as a bit of a wayback moment.

All in all I burned probably $8 in gas and spent $12 on lunch… $20 well spent I guess.

Listening to "Inhale" by New Arcades

Breakfast

This morning’s breakfast is “Le Peep”; there’s one just south of my place on Parker road, but I’ve not eaten there until this morning.

I think the last time I ate at Le Peep was probably the early 80’s in Longmont… Back then the place had just escaped Aspen, so it was kind of designed (and priced) for SoCal women visiting their Aspen house with their staff and designer dogs.

It was good, but back then $15 for breakfast was borderline insanity, and no one in Longmont even knew what an avocado was let alone why it should be an ingredient in everything on the menu.

Fast forward 40 years and the prices haven’t really changed much, the ambiance of the place is about the same, and there’s an avocado in pretty much every dish – but the clientele are now the median age of Joe Biden.

While waiting for my to-go order a balding fellow with an ironic ponytail and an actual Izod polo shirt walked in and was seated… I assume he’s been eating at LePeep since the 80’s. Then there was the elderly lady who spent the entire time I was waiting attempting to park her beige late 80’s 300-series Mercedes; she must have pulled in an out of the handicap space a half dozen times while I watched – mostly because my car was next to the handicap spot and I was expecting a costly confrontation at any moment.

She evidently gave up because she followed me out of the parking lot and eventually ended up at the IHOP just up the hill. It has RV parking, so might have been easier for her to navigate.

All in all though the food was good when I got it home. I ordered the ala carte biscuits and gravy with a scrambled egg and a side of sausage, and it was pretty inexpensive for what I got; $17 including the mandatory tip (for a carry out order)…

I was initially going to get the biscuits and gravy menu item, but they don’t offer scrambled eggs anywhere but ala carte… Only peasants eat their eggs scrambled I guess. 🙂

Listening to "It's My Life" by Talk Talk

Sign of the Times

Taken with my Nokia 6300 4G, and this is as good as the camera gets – it’s like being in the late 90’s again!

I’ve taken to topping off the gas tank in the car every week just because it feels less expensive to spend smaller amounts more often… I know it’s not, but don’t ruin it for me.

So, I only used one and a quarter gallons this week, which was a mere $5… Not bad, even with the current levels of crazy in the world.

And it’s pretty typical really; I can finally leave the house without a space suit, but now it’s too expensive to leave the house.

Listening to "Boy Blue" by Electric Light Orchestra