Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hacking a 120 Film Roll Down to 620 Size

I picked up a Brownie Hawkeye camera a couple weeks ago.  I thought it took 120 format film, but it actually takes 620 format film.  620 film is the original "printer cartridge extortion" scheme.  It's exactly the same film as 120 format, but the end caps of the spool are slightly thinner, and they're of a slightly smaller diameter than 120.  The barely-bigger 120 spools won't fit in a 620 camera; you have to buy Kodak 620 Film.  Bastards.

If you're lucky, which I was, the camera had an empty 620 spool in it.  You can put this on the receiving side, to let the camera reel the exposed film onto.  So the challenge is just to get a roll of fresh 120 film to fit onto the unexposed side.
My workshop classmate Nalini brought me a stack of info on this.  (Thanks!)  Some people modify new 120 rolls that have fresh film on them.  Other people hack empty 120 spools to look like 620, then use a changing bag to pull the film off a 120 roll, and then roll it back onto their hacked 620 roll.  I haven't tried any method yet, so I don't know.  But here's what I've learned about modifying a 120 spindle to fit like a 620 spindle.

You have a few choices for reducing the diameter of the 120 roll's spindle ends.

  • I tried shaving the ends down to a narrower diameter with a Dremel.  This was really ugly.
  • Clipping the ends down with large nail clippers worked pretty well.  I recommend it.
  • But my favorite was using a pair of electricians' scissors to trim down the diameter.  Clean and easy!
And then you've got options for thinning down the spindle ends, too.

  • Some folks recommend thinning it down with a metal file.  I'll bet that works nicely.
  • I tried using the Dremel with a sanding disc, and it was a little sloppy.  (But worked.)
  • Better was to use the cylindrical sander attachment for the Dremel.  Nice and tidy!

So now I've got an empty 120 spindle that fits in a camera that takes 620 film.  I'll try pulling 120 film off another spindle and feeding it back onto my make-believe 620 spindle.  Then I'll try taking a loaded 120 roll and trimming off the ends with the unexposed film still on.  And after that, well, you can actually still buy 620 rolls, it's just a specialty item.

I'll report back with details about what worked and what didn't.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Making Google TV forget your Netflix account info

I've tried the "official" way.  That's where you go into the application settings for the TV, find Netflix, and select "Clear Data."  It even warns you that your account information will be lost.  And then it does absosmurfly nothing.  Punks.

Here's how to *actually* get your Google TV's Netflix app to forget your login information.
  • Launch the Netflix app.  (Even if it gives you an error about connecting.)
  • Use the navigational arrow buttons in the upper-left region of your remote's face.
  • In sequence, press these arrow buttons : up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, up, up, up, up.
This will either make Chun Lee shoot a big blue fireball that decapitates your enemy, or it will pop the Netflix app into a bit of a debug mode.  Press the down arrow to select the "Deactivate" option and press the Enter button on the remote.  Poof!  The app should restart itself and prompt you again for all your account eenfos as if you never met it.

Should Corporate IT embrace its inner Ma Bell?

Okay, bear with me here.  I was thinking about this on the ride home, and I could be on to something, or I could have just inhaled too much exhaust.  Is "Corporate IT" (with capital letters) reaching a point where it looks more like Ma Bell than a helpful and innovative organization?  That's not a bad thing.  Look what happened when Ma Bell got shaken up.

Remember the old days, when you got your phone service in one-size-fits-all "service offering?" (Put down the ITIL book, I'm using it derogatorily.)  The phone company actually owned the wiring in your house, and you rented the handset from them.  (Kids, skip down a paragraph or two.)  And that made perfect sense!  Their product was intended to connect people, not just run a stupid network.  And who the hell wanted to manage their own infrastructure in the house, anyways?  Seriously, what do I care about my stupid phone service?

And then along comes the Sports Illustrated Football Phone.  (Kids, skip another paragraph.)  It just looks so awesome on TV and it's free fer chrissakes and it's a nice way to show your friends just how enthusiastic you are about ritualized, non-lethal battle games.  That guy in the ad looks so chummy and smart!  You must have one.  But it's a piece of junk and it breaks. So you call the phone company and they natter on at you about how it's an unsupported device and who do you think you are, a phone technician, this is very serious stuff.

You could write a book about this, so I'm sure someone has.  If not, get me a ghost writer and I'll supply the technical angle.  (Sadly, Tim O'Reilly does not read my blog.)

But it was really making me think.  Do we need to just relax, put a few sandbags in the right places, and begin to define our basic offering as merely running a line to the MPOE?  Do we charge extra for inside wiring work, but offer an "inside wiring plan," for folks who never want to bother with it?  If you get tired of your answering machine breaking tapes all the time (Kids, skip another sentence.) you'll see the value in paying extra for voicemail.  If you want to run a call center, we'll happily give you a T1 ... but arranging to de-mux it and install a PBX is up to you.

It sure beats the current state .. where we continue to offer services that are somewhat appealing to end-users, and mostly manageable at scale for IT, but kinda leave both of us a little unsatisfied.  They said I can keep the awesome football phone even if I choose not to subscribe!  Why are you making me use this hideous, heavy, putty-colored thing!?

Maybe it's time for Corporate IT to learn to stop worrying and love the football phone.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Toy Camera Workshop

Sven and Kristin and I are taking a three-Mondays, two-Saturdays Toy Camera Workshop over at UC extension.  The Holga 120 CFN is the recommended camera for the course .. pretty kewl so far, and it has an option to tint the flash red, yellow or blue.  It takes 120 format film.  The Mini Diana is something I picked up a year ago.  It takes normal 35 mm film.

Our story so far:  
  • The teacher recommends films that use a C41 processing technique.  Dunno why yet.
  • When you advance a new roll of 120 film in the Holga, you'll see "11" as the first number -- it's just "1" twice.
  • These viewfinders are notoriously inaccurate .. take a picture of something square filling the viewfinder, and when you process the photo you'll see how far off it is.
  • Use 400 speed or faster .. even if shooting in daylight.
  • The switch that says B and N is the shutter style: N just snaps the shutter normally, while B opens the shutter for as long as you have the trigger pushed down.
  • The Holga's two internal masks are optional, and not using them gives some interesting affects.
  • The Holga's nearest focus setting is about 3 feet away from the lens.

I haven't had anything developed yet.  George's apparently develops your film, does a contact sheet, and scans the output onto a DVD.  There's a field trip tomorrow at a nearby Swap Meet to take a couple snapshots.  So far, so fun!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Repurposed NetApp Filer Grill

I saved an old NetApp FAS960 faceplate from the e-waste pile.  There's an arduino glued into the back, and LEDs run to the original spots on the filer's grill.  I added a photo resistor on the top left corner -- so waving your hand over it causes a measurable drop in light level, letting it be a sort of gestural input.  (Sort of.)

The initial application was as a timer for backup tape acclimation.  When you bring new tapes into the datacenter, you'd wave over the photo resistor, resetting the clock, and then in two hours it'll illuminate the blue LED, and in six hours it does the green LED ... indicating that the tapes are adjusted to the datacenter environment.  That works fine, but I'm still not sure what it wants to be when it grows up.

Frackin' Toasters.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Fixing Multiple Characters Typed in a vSphere Console on a Linux Guest

You know the problem .. you're in the vSphere client, you've got a console open on a linux guest, and sometimes when you type a character, you get multiples of it typed in the console.  Yeah, try logging in like that.

Briefly, the problem is that it thinks you're holding down the keys (lag adds time between key-down and key-up events) so it repeats the letter you're "holding down."  You can disable key repeating for this guest's console by changing how long a key must be down before it's repeated.  There's a handy post that explains editing the .vmx file .. but I prefer to do it in the vSphere client:

  • Pop into the vSphere client and "Shut Down Guest"  (I know, sorry.)
  • Click to "Edit Settings"
  • Select the "Options" tab.
  • In the list, under "Advanced," click "General"
  • Over on the right, click the "Configuration Parameters..." button.
  • Click the "Add Row" button.
  • Make the new variable's name "keyboard.typematicMinDelay" and the value "2000000"
  • Boot it back up.

Now you can login as "root," instead of "rrrroooooott."