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Extra ultra super glue.

Just a useful trick. Some people use the word ‘hack’ for stuff like this, but I … don’t.

However, I will say that I have found that super glue, by which I mean cyanoacrylate glue, is lousy for fixing the plastic that most kids’ toys are made from. However, some companies now sell a double-pack for fixing that kind of stuff — it’s sometimes called ‘Toy Fix Glue‘ or similar.

You can buy it, but it costs a premium, and what is in the pack is a felt-tip marker filled with MEK or something very similar, and a tube of what smells a lot like super glue. Now, you’ll pay something like $10 for this tube of super glue and a few ml of this primer. It works, though.

But, instead, I prefer to pay like $2.50 for a multi-pack of no-name super glue and then go to the plumbing section and get a container of primer for joining PVC pipes for about $6. Now, this primer can be coloured, so it’s a good idea to get the transparent, colourless one.

I use a paint brush, like a cheap watercolour brush, to pain the primer onto both surfaces to be joined. Then I let it evaporate off, and apply the glue to one surface and then hold the surfaces together firmly for as long as possible.

This fixes plastics that super glue won’t normally bond, as well as ceramics — I’ve glued up teacups that have then been used for years, though I don’t put them through the dishwasher. Probably could, but don’t.


Use in a well-ventilated area!

Some plastics will be softened by the primer, so avoid applying more than necessary, and if it is a really valuable/valued item, maybe ‘do a test in an inconspicuous area’, as they say.

Super glue is dangerous and must be kept away from skin, eyes and any other body parts, whether your own or those of other people.

Keep out of reach of children, and don’t let them touch the glue either.


Glue, ink, whatever.

A fool’s guide to installing a new hard drive in my Linux box.

(1) First I bought a new drive. Nothing fancy, Seagate 2 TB 3.5″ HD. I want extra data space, not a boot disk. I just want to mount it as a multimedia repository. Audacity generates a lot of GB.

(2) Second, I found an empty bay in my tower case and slotted the drive in and fastened it in with all four screws.

Sideways pointless picture of the inside the my PC case.

Sideways pointless picture of the inside the my PC case.

(3) Ran a SATA cable from the drive to an empty plug on the motherboard, and connected power to the new drive.

(4) Disconnected all external storage and booted up, and noticed that the drive showed up in the boot output. (Disconnected external storage to make identifying the correct disk easier when creating partitions.)

(5) I know that my existing HD is sda. Ran gparted. (Applications -> System -> Administration -> Gnome partition editor in the Debian menu structure).

(6) Waited while gparted found the partitions on all the attached disks.

(7) Identified new disk as sdb. Good.

(8) Created partition table: I chose gpt, but msdos works usually too. Device -> Create Partition Table -> select type.

<tt>gparted</tt>. A screen shot too fill up space.

gparted. A screen shot to fill up space.

(9) Right click on its entry in the partition editor window. Selected ‘New’ and added details as preferred. I like ext4, used the whole disk, and gave it a label different from any other disks. It had to be Primary since it is the only partition on the disk.

(10) Clicked ‘Add’, then ‘Apply’. Closed the dialogue when successfully completed. The partition editor took a few seconds and found the new partition.

(11) Okay. Now, to get it to mount on boot. The modern way uses a sort of ‘universal ID’ for the drive — UUID are four letters that come to mind. I just used the fact that the partition is called sdb1.

(12) Created a mount point in my file tree.



$ cd
$ mkdir Music

I was not acting as root at this point — because this is my desktop machine and my data. I am treating it as part of /home/myusername, not creating a drive for everyone to see.

(13) Then edited /etc/fstab. This has to be done as root

$ sudo vim /etc/fstab

This is the added text in /etc/fstab.

#New 2TB GB drive as ~/Music
/dev/sdb1 /home/myusername/Music ext4 rw,user,exec,auto,errors=remount-ro 0 2

(14) Then gave the machine a reboot and saw what happened…

(15) Use the ‘disk free space’ command to see if I can see the new disk.

$ df -h

Here is the output for the new disk…

Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on

/dev/sdb1 1.8T 196M 1.7T 1% /home/myusername/Music


(16) Need to do a test… Can I write to it? Test:

$ touch /home/myusername/Music/testfile

No! Because when mounted Music is owned by root, not by me.

(17) So…

$ sudo chown myusername /home/myusername/Music/ 

$ touch /home/myusername/Music/testfile

Success… (Note, this may not be the cleverest way to do all this, it only works.)

(18) Now reboot and see if I can still write to it…

(19) Yep. OK, now put the sides back on the tower and copy the back-up to the new data space… Yep, that works.

And awayyyy…….

Tapes, cassettes, whatever, ripping to mp3.

OK, so ‘ripping’ cassettes using my old AKAI in the shed. Same method works for vinyl.

Verify the below with a run-through.

(1) Get the two ended 3.5mm plug audio cable, one end into stereo output, other into mic input of netbook.
(2) run audacity (2.0.6) and record…
(3) Massively overloads the input, huge distortion
(4) Mic gain inside audacity is greyed out, says ‘use system mixer’
(5) Playing a tape while recording in audacity and fiddling with System → Control Centre → Sound (on MATE). Reduce mic amplification. (Volume control on my stereo is flaky.)
(6) Does affect the loudness. Dropped it back so that it touched the edges of the scale now and again but not repeatedly.
(7) Playback…Sounds ok.
(8) Record output of tape player.
(9) Find where tracks start in Audacity window. Place cursor there and type ‘Ctrl-B’ and type track name. I use the form ‘XX Title’ where XX is 01, 02, 03… (makes for better sorting of filenames).
(10) Highlight whole thing and Go File → Edit Metadata and set the album and artist name.
(11) Use the noise removal under the Effects menu.
(12) File → Export Multiple, choose your file locations and types and away you go.

Notes: I found I got weird buzzing noise in the captured audio stream when my netbook fan turned on, so it worked a lot better on cold days (!).

Noise reduction can affect the ‘feel’ of the result (can kill the high end frequencies a bit) – do a test and undo if desired,

Check settings like balance, equalisation and Dolby on the tape player. Because the input to Audacity is coming from the earphone jack, these things will affect the result.

If the Audacity display is maxing out a lot, the sound will be clipped and distorted. Reduce either input mic gain on the computer or just turn down the volume on the stereo; it is worth starting the recording, looking at the display, adjusting the volume until it touches the maximum now and again but not a lot, then (just leave Audacity recording) rewind the tape and play it at the new volume level. The bit of experimental crap at the start can be snipped off later.

It is best to give the file a name before you start, say /home/username/audacity/projectname.aup. On a Linux system if you don’t it will be written to some tmp folder somewhere (/tmp, /etc/tmp or something), and it can get very big. If you have a root partition with not a lot of free space on it, it can get filled right up (Audacity can generate GB of stuff, especially if you go off and forget it is capturing the audio). When / runs out of space, Linux can behave a little oddly… Don’t let that happen. Set an alarm or something.

Tapes can be highly variable. Wow, hiss, all kinds of issues. A good tape in a good deck gives very worthwhile results. Much the same process can be used to grab audio from vinyl, of course.


My Vanguard is Alive! (Or: “I’m really out of material for this blog.”)

The Vanguard No 6. Engineered like no other stapler.

The Vanguard No 6. Engineered like no other stapler.

Yes, it’s a stapler. The Vanguard No 6, a real heavy-duty piece of kit. Don’t drop it on your toe!

It only has one problem — you can’t buy ammunition for it any more. The occasional box of staples comes up on ebay or similar, but I cannot find any new product out there.

I think that’s because the staples are half inch across the bridge, where modern ones are 12 mm, and that quarter millimetre is enough to result in incompatibility.

But it’s alive again because I picked up a box at a jumble sale. As a machine for driving heavy-duty staples through the spine of an A5 booklet (or a wall), it is better than any more modern stapler I’ve used. Does require a fair bit of force, though, since there’s no lever arm to give a mechanical advantage — you literally just push the staple through the paper using the big black handle.

Anyway, there’s only so much space I can dedicate to talking about a stapler…

Stapler plus ammo.

Stapler plus ammo.


Made in England.

Made in England.


Office Equipment.

Horrible errors on my Linux box.

Horrible errors on my Linux box. When trying to boot up. I mean, eventually it did boot, but this was not good:

Feb 27 15:17:00 lauequad kernel: [21057.921922] ata2.00: cmd 25/00:08:00:08:c3/00:00:16:00:00/e0 tag 0 dma 4096 in
Feb 27 15:17:00 lauequad kernel: [21057.921923]          res 40/00:00:00:4f:c2/00:00:00:00:00/00 Emask 0x14 (ATA bus error)
Feb 27 15:17:00 lauequad kernel: [21057.921924] ata2.00: status: { DRDY }
Feb 27 15:17:00 lauequad kernel: [21057.921932] ata2.00: hard resetting link
Feb 27 15:17:01 lauequad kernel: [21058.643829] ata2.01: hard resetting link
Feb 27 15:17:01 lauequad /USR/SBIN/CRON[6290]: (root) CMD (   cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.hourly)
Feb 27 15:17:01 lauequad kernel: [21059.118482] ata2.00: SATA link up 1.5 Gbps (SStatus 113 SControl 310)
Feb 27 15:17:01 lauequad kernel: [21059.118493] ata2.01: SATA link down (SStatus 0 SControl 300)
Feb 27 15:17:01 lauequad kernel: [21059.226065] ata2.00: configured for UDMA/33
Feb 27 15:17:01 lauequad kernel: [21059.250462] ata2.00: device reported invalid CHS sector 0
Feb 27 15:17:01 lauequad kernel: [21059.250466] ata2: EH complete
Feb 27 15:17:32 lauequad kernel: [21089.830651] ata2: lost interrupt (Status 0x50)
Feb 27 15:17:32 lauequad kernel: [21089.830669] ata2.00: exception Emask 0x52 SAct 0x0 SErr 0x58d0c02 action 0xe frozen
Feb 27 15:17:32 lauequad kernel: [21089.830672] ata2.00: SError: { RecovComm Proto HostInt PHYRdyChg CommWake 10B8B LinkSeq TrStaTrns DevExch }
Feb 27 15:17:32 lauequad kernel: [21089.830674] ata2.00: failed command: READ DMA EXT
Feb 27 15:17:32 lauequad kernel: [21089.830677] ata2.00: cmd 25/00:08:00:08:c3/00:00:16:00:00/e0 tag 0 dma 4096 in
Feb 27 15:17:32 lauequad kernel: [21089.830678]          res 40/00:00:00:4f:c2/00:00:00:00:00/00 Emask 0x56 (ATA bus error)
Feb 27 15:17:32 lauequad kernel: [21089.830679] ata2.00: status: { DRDY }

Except they were all nicely coloured and arranged by vim’s syntax highlighting.


This was in the file /var/log/syslog

Freakin’ scary. I thought one of my hard drives was on the way out. Fortunately it’s not my main drive, the one that houses / and /home, but it’s the second drive which mounts at /home/username/Music.

So, I thought maybe the drive was on the way out. My back ups were up to date, but I noticed that when I want to have a look in ~/Music, there were some files that were corrupt. On boot the messages included one telling me to run fsck on /dev/sdb1 (the Music partition) and then dropping me into a shell, and then fsck told me it could not fix the drive…


Double-checked my backups were current, then unmounted the partition and used gparted to reformat it freshly as ext4. Started to copy the files across from the backup.

Stopped. Could not access the drive.


Remembered an old POST OF MY OWN.

SATA cable plugs sure do wiggle in their sockets. A lot more than old IDE ribbon cables.

Powered down. Removed power cable. Opened case. Noted which SATA cables went from which socket on the motherboard to which drive. Removed them all, blew some dry air into the plugs and cable ends. Replaced the cables and gave them a good wiggle, then left them, making sure they were not getting tugged out or sideways by tension but were square in the sockets. This involved rerouting some cables so they were more comfortable, and tying a bunch of unused power plugs up out of the way.

Reboot. No error messages. Mount back up drive. Copy 240+ GB of backups onto blank drive. All faultless. Seems to work perfectly.

Take home message: SATA cables are fussy and can cause problems that might look like something worse.

Something worse.

Getting lp, lpq and lpstat to work…

I want to be able to use lp and print from command line, not just from gui. My Linux box (Debian, running FLWM as window manager), prints fine from applications with print dialogues, for example LibreOffice or evince, but I want to be able to use lp, a2ps, maybe print from xFig, and these all use the lp command line interface, and that is not set up.

I know I can go ($ is command line prompt)

$ lpadmin -d [printer-name]

but what is ‘printer-name’? I have a couple of printers attached by USB, not network.

It’s actually very simple.

$ lpstat -a

FUJI_XEROX_DocuPrint_CP305_d accepting requests since Wed 02 Nov 2016 13:26:34 AEDT
HL5340D accepting requests since Wed 14 Dec 2016 17:33:54 AEDT
Stylus-TX100 accepting requests since Tue 13 Dec 2016 20:19:20 AEDT

$ lpadmin -d HL5340D


Wacom tablet, Debian, shenanigans.

Getting Wacom tablet to work…it ought to work out of the box, though my system is getting a little old… anyway, the details…

Wacom PTH-851 (Intuos Pro).

$ uname -a

Linux machinename 3.2.0-4-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 3.2.82-1 x86_64 GNU/Linux

Debian 7.xx, always kept pretty much up to date.

Don’t usually use gnome, but opened a gnome session and ran the ‘Wacom’ control panel GUI thing. Got:

‘No Tablet Detected’


$ lsusb | grep Wacom

Bus 002 Device 006: ID 056a:0317 Wacom Co., Ltd

So the USB device showed up (I am not using bluetooth).

$ xinput list

⎡ Virtual core pointer                        id=2    [master pointer  (3)]
⎜   ↳ Virtual core XTEST pointer                    id=4    [slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ Mouse USB Laser Mouse                         id=8    [slave  pointer  (2)]
⎣ Virtual core keyboard                       id=3    [master keyboard (2)]
    ↳ Virtual core XTEST keyboard                     id=5    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Power Button                                    id=6    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Power Button                                    id=7    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ AT Translated Set 2 keyboard                    id=9    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ ACPI Virtual Keyboard Device                    id=10   [slave  keyboard (3)]

$ lsmod | grep wacom

No result.

So no kernel module.
Why not? All the Wacom packages are installed, according to apt-get…. Probably just not loading the module, but… Anyway…

$ cd installs/
$ mkdir wacom
$ cd wacom

Browsed to:

and download the latest version.

$ tar xjvf input-wacom-0.32.0.tar.bz2
$ cd input-wacom-0.32.0/
$ ./configure
$ make
$ sudo make install

It said:

Warning: you may need to install module-init-tools

$ sudo apt-get install module-init-tools
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
module-init-tools is already the newest version.
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.

OK, rebooted.

$ lsmod | grep acom
wacom                  56840  0
power_supply           13475  2 nouveau,wacom
usbcore               128741  6

$ xinput list

⎡ Virtual core pointer                        id=2    [master pointer  (3)]
⎜   ↳ Virtual core XTEST pointer                    id=4    [slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ Mouse USB Laser Mouse                         id=8    [slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ Wacom Intuos Pro L Pen stylus                 id=9    [slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ Wacom Intuos Pro L Finger touch               id=10   [slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ Wacom Intuos Pro L Pen eraser                 id=13   [slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ Wacom Intuos Pro L Pen cursor                 id=14   [slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ Wacom Intuos Pro L Pen pad                    id=15   [slave  pointer  (2)]
⎣ Virtual core keyboard                       id=3    [master keyboard (2)]
    ↳ Virtual core XTEST keyboard                     id=5    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Power Button                                    id=6    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Power Button                                    id=7    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ AT Translated Set 2 keyboard                    id=11   [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ ACPI Virtual Keyboard Device                    id=12   [slave  keyboard (3)]

And it worked!

And gone.

Last one, I promise. Olympia SF De Luxe

Uh oh. I’ve now got four. That counts as mania. This one was on ebay for $10. It had a sticky ribbon tensioner that prevented the ribbon from feeding, and has a few marks, and the case is perished a little and missing the handle of the zip, though the zip works. Came with a Pelikan eraser, too. Not too bad.

Olympia SF De Luxe. About 1963, I think.

Olympia SF De Luxe. About 1963, I think.

The reviews are good for these. Indeed, now that have a Hermes, an Olivetti, a Brother and an Olympia, I feel that I have a god cross-section of the more common good-quality brands. Enough!

While it needs a bit of attention, it is clearly an impressive machine. It has visible margins, a spring-up paper stand, a carriage lock that works from the top, a good-sized return lever, ribbon selector, a ‘1’ key, metal reels on the ribbon, line spacing selector. Pretty much everything except a tab key, which is not something I miss, and more of an office machine feature anyway.

On unsticking the tensioner, the ribbon started to feed. It was too faded to be of any use, and I get the impression from the sticking that the unit had been in storage and unused for a very long time and could use a little oil. ‘q’ and ‘y’ seemed to stick a bit, with the typebars not returning after a strike; but ths improved with a little use, and with moving the touch regulator all the way to ‘+’. And if things do stick, due to stickiness or hitting more than one key and them jamming, the margin release key doubles as an ‘unstick’ key; very handy. ‘G’ sits a bit low on the keyboard as if its stalk is bent, but works fine. The rubber grommets that seat the lid are completely hardened and crumbling away.

Olympia SF De Luxe text example.

Olympia SF De Luxe text example.

But these are quibbles that can be sorted out with a little care. The key press is very short and definite. It is carriage shift (the paper goes up and down, not the typebars), but on a portable, small machine like this the weight is not a problem. The bell is clear, the whole design careful and extremely well thought out, and the feature set remarkably rich. The text is extremely well-aligned, though even with a new ribbon not very dark. Dark enough, however. In summary, a very fine machine.

Made in Wilhelmshaven by Olympia Werke AG, (Western Germany). Ser. 95-701687 (really good photos of an essentially identical one here).

A real carriage shift.

A real carriage shift.

Scrappy case.

Scrappy case.

Steel reels

Steel reels.

The ribbon feed. De Luxe.

The ribbon feed. De Luxe.

Reink sample: A few weeks later

Just posting a sample of text from reinked ribbon a week or two after doing it. Looks OK to me.


Small sample. Real colour. Low res.

Small sample. Real colour. Low res.


Hi res, well, 300dpi anyway.

Hi res, well, 300dpi anyway. On used paper, so there is some show-through.

So, it’s not very blue but it is blue. It is pretty even, and has actually improved since I did it. And it has had plenty of time to dry out and it hasn’t, even the bit of ribbon near the paper and which is exposed to the air. Maybe if I left the machine unused for weeks it would dry out, but so far it looks like the glycerine works.

Time wasters.

Reinking a typewriter ribbon II: My crazy experiments yield something

This follows on from part I.

So the next thing to do was get a clean glass jar, drop in twenty or so drops of ink and one of glycerine, then mix. Well, here is a numbered list of things:

(1) I made up a small jig to hold two spools. The spools were not parallel enough, but it was okay for a first pass.

Do a little jig.

Do a little jig. I just wound the spools by hand.

(2) Between the spools I put a stamp pad, and I loaded the stamp pad with some Artline stamp pad ink that had been mixed with glycerine, the latter simply bought from a supermarket, from the cake-making aisle. The ratio of ink to glycerine was about 10:1, possibly richer in ink than that.



(3) I used a glass jar held on its side to push the ribbon against the pad as I wound the ribbon from one spool to the other. I recharged the pad a couple of times on the way.

(4) When I was done I dropped a little excess ink on the tightly-wound spool and let it soak in, just because I had some left. I wanted to see if the glycerine stopped the ink from drying out too quickly, so it was better to err on the side of having extra ink, so that I could be sure that a simple lack of ink was not the problem.

(5) I note that the ribbon is quite old (metal spools) and rather frayed which leads to stray strands of nylon flopping around and giving unwanted spidery lines on the page. Can’t blame the reinking for that.

(6) I found that immediately after reinking it worked pretty well. An hour later it still worked just as well. Next day even the exposed bit of ribbon was still usable, so it seems to work! I seem to have put too much ink into the ribbon, and not as uniform as I would have liked, so probably not much good for serious work, but for a few notes and whatnot it would be fine, and with a bit of trial and error I think I’ll be able to get ribbons that can do almost a well as a bought one, and in some funky colours. Can even experiment with buying a lightweight half inch nylon ribbon and inking it.

Not exactly brilliant, but a good place to start.

Not exactly brilliant, but a good place to start. Scan is b&w so not blue at all.

I am wondering if a different brand of ink — Horse brand comes to mind — would not need the glycerine added. I’d be interested to hear.

Live and don’t learn.