June 10th, 2003

Enterprise Bridge

Random Monday observations

Okay, the electrical design in my car is annoyingly clever. It has automatic headlights. A light sensor in the dash tells the car when it's dark out, so the computer (actually, there are two--in this case, it's the Body Control Module) turns the headlights on. Actual control of the lighting is through two relays and a rotary switch. The switch is the manual headlight control on the turn signal stalk. The circuit for the headlights themselves is completed one of two ways, either through the rotary switch, or through a relay controlled by the BCM. The circuit for the rest of the lights (parking, marker, fog, and tail) is completed only through another BCM-controlled relay. What this means is, if I yank the headlamp relay, the headlights will only go on when I turn the switch all the way to "on". But the parking lights will still come on automatically. If I pull the parklamp relay, then the parking, marker, fog, and tail lights will never come on, even if I turn the rotary switch on. So constructing an override switch for the auto headlights is gonna be a little more complicated than I thought.

This is obviously a safety-influenced design. You want to keep high-current wiring out of the operator controls as much as possible, hence the routing of all the lights besides the headlamps through relays. However, if the BCM dies, you don't want the headlights completely out of service, so you route 20A of DC current through the (more reliable) rotary switch anyways.

There's still no Chilton's or Haynes manuals on the '02 L300, so I had to buy the 4-volume service manual set from Saturn. It's $125, but goddamn, it's got everything in it. I might've figured out how to patch the iPod directly into the stereo--pretend it's OnStar.


My Trogdor shirt showed up today. Let the burnination begin!

As I was leaving Home Despot today, I passed a car entering with old blue-and-yellow California license plates, "MC FEDS". I know Disney bought the FCC, but I didn't know that McDonald's had also bought a piece of the federal government!

More reasons Windows can lick my nutsaq... A friend asked me to upgrade the hard drive in her system. All that was neccessary was to partition the new drive, and copy the old drive to it. I didn't know right away that she owned a copy of Norton Ghost, which would've done the whole job in an hour. Instead, I planned to put a fresh install of Win2K on the new drive, then copy everything else over. The Windows install CD saw the old OS installation, and declared that it was damaged, and would I like to repair it? The system had been running fine, no evidence of damage that anyone else saw. Nonetheless, I mistakenly assumed that the install CD knew better than I did, and I let it proceed. Turns out, it broke the installation. In the end, I ghosted the old drive to the new one, then had to do full OS reinstalls on the new drive, twice, and reinstall all the applications. Sure, the apps were still there, but since the OS was new, none of the appropriate install-time registry tweaks were in place anymore, so they were useless. My one-hour job turned into the larger part of two days.

Fast forward to today. Another friend had lost his Outlook Express identity password. Windows XP refuses to read the FAT16 floppy disk I have Outlook Express Key on, says it's damaged. I dial the system in (yeah, this is the one guy in town with no broadband connection) and Windows Automatic Updater grabs hold of the full 40 kbps of bandwidth to start slurping down patches. MSIE can't load a single page before it times out. I pause the Updater from the taskbar, but IE still can't load content. I have to turn off the auto-updater and reboot before I can browse the web again. Bringing in scp to copy OE Key off my home system gets the job done, but now a two-minute job has taken over half an hour, because XP won't read the floppy. (It read just fine in my Win2K box at home afterwards.)

Oh yes, then there's OE itself. In OE 5, if you change the storage folder for an identity to an existing storage folder (say, following an OS reinstall which caused the user's OE GUID to change,) it stops you and asks, "Hey, there's already mail here. Do you want to use it, or delete it and start from scratch?" OE 6 doesn't bother with the question. Furthering the Microsoft mentality that its programmers know what you need better than you do, it simply blows away the store and starts from scratch, no questions asked. It's a damned good thing I still had that old drive handy with the data intact. MS, you fucking BUTTCLITNUGGSAQs.