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a blog from Eli the Bearded
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Tiny Media, revisited

A few weeks ago I posted about getting a tiny cassette tape and commented that I needed a microdrive to complete the collection.

Four pieces of tiny media with a dime and Lego brick for scale

Clockwise from top: a 36 exposure film cartridge for a Minox camera (takes 8 × 11 mm pictures on 9.2mm wide film); a US dime and green a Lego brick of the most generic type (3001, 31.8 × 15.8 × 11.4 mm); a Seagate 4GB microdrive in Compact Flash package (43 × 36 × 5 mm; platter is 26mm Ø); a 120 minute Sony NTC-120 cassette tape (30 × 21.5 × 5 mm; 2.5 mm magnetic tape) and a Samsung micro SD card (15 × mm × 1 mm).

I checked ebay, and microdrives are easy and cheap to find these days, so now I have one. Upon getting I found out I had to buy a new Y000 size tri-lobed screw driver (well, bit for my modular driver) to take it apart. My set of bits, the complete range from Ifixit when I got the set, only went down to Y0. Ifixit now has them. I got a Y00 at the same time to not have a gap.

Somewhere I have a few UMD disks, the DVD-esque media for the Sony Playstation Portable (PSP). At 64mm in diameter, it was smaller than the Minidisk (68mm) format, but it is still much larger than any of these.

Tiny Media

Three pieces of tiny media and a Lego brick for scale

Clockwise: a Lego brick of the most generic size; a 120 minute NTC-120 cassette tape, a micro SD card, and a 36 exposure film cartridge for a Minox camera.

Extremely tiny things amuse me, so when I recently learned about the NT tape format from Sony, I looked on ebay to see if I could find one. About twelve bucks later and I have one. Now I need to get a microdrive to complete the collection.

Update: with microdrive

Deja Google News Groups

Those of us who still read Usenet proper have probably all seen instances of 10+ year old threads getting a new post by someone who found it on Deja News or it's Google successor. Eg, last month I saw this reply to a twenty five year-old post.

Newgroups: comp.editors
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 2021 19:21:33 -0800 (PST)
Injection-Info: google-groups.googlegroups.com; [...]
Message-ID: <42d18ee7-712f-41f4-b4af-dba9988b192an@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: Maximum line length in Vi
From: Tejasvi S Tomar <tstomar@outlook...>

On Monday, April 17, 1995 at 12:30:00 PM UTC+5:30, Paul Fox wrote:
> G. Ioannou (gi...@cus.cam.ac.uk) wrote:
> : ed
> : Vim
> : Vile
> : They all worked fine with lines over 2000 characters in length, but I
> : don't know the exact limit.
> lines on vile, at least, are limited by the size of an int.
> anyone know what it is in vim?
> paul
> ---------------------------------
> paul fox, p...@foxharp.boston.ma.us (arlington, ma)

It seems there isn't any limit. https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/learning-the-vi/9780596529833/ch15s10.html

Anyway today I encountered a new twist on this. Instead of replying to decade(s) old post through Deja Google, someone instead hunted down my Wikipedia user page and answered a question of mine about Usenet II (dead for at least ten years) on the User Talk page. Really, I had no pressing care about why 4gh was used for the "Distribution" header. I knew it was a reference to some sci-fi book, but didn't really care more than that. And if I did care, the Usenet II page at Wikipedia has had the answer for a while: Usenet II, diff=prev, oldid=181389883

(The same person who added the reference in 2008 is the person who who answered me today on User Talk.)

It makes me wonder if people used to (or maybe still do) get the problem of people writing letters about long ago published stuff after finding it in a library.

C. R. Boffo
123 Main St
Small Town
14 January 1958
Mark Twain
345 Taylor St
San Francisco
Dear Sir,

I am writing to you in regards your piece about the jumping frog trainer that lived in Calaveras County. I don't know if Jim Smiley is training frogs for use in jumping contests, but he should be aware that California law now has mandates about frogs kept for jumping contests. I would also like to say that feeding lead to frogs as that stranger did to Dan'l is just cruel.

Yours sincerely,
C. R. Boffo

Any relation of "C. R. Boffo" to the .a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_River_toad "bufo "lick for high" toads" is surely coincidental.

Earliest Viable Poop

There are two dogs in this household, with very different personalities. Dog walks highlight one of the biggest contrasts.

One dog boldly in the sidewalk, one trying to get back home.

In this end-of-dog-walk shot, I've leashed the dogs to a pillar while I put the garbage bins away. Willie stands in the center of the sidewalk, staring into the distance. Hazel is trying to get back into the house.

Willie is super skilled at mental maps. He probably cannot get himself lost (although he has been known to run off). When we traveled, in pre-covid times, Willie could always be counted on to know when we were back "home" even if it was at night, somewhere he's been inside of only once for a few minutes, and approaching from a different direction than he had visited it before.

Hazel, two years after adoption, now seems to almost never go up the neighbors stairs. Hazel likes a walk from time to time. She is always happy to go on the morning walk (okay, not happy on rainy days), although she sometimes needs some help to start moving towards the door. But come evening, she'll pointedly run away from the leashes.

Willie is usually — rainy days are an exception — happy to walk for as long as I'd like to walk, and I'm quite willing to walk a long time. Our evening walks are often around half a mile, and sometimes longer than a mile. Morning walks, such as in the above photo are just around the block.

Which brings me to "Earliest Viable Poop".

In corporate nomenclature, the "minimum viable product" is the least advanced version of something a company thinks they can get money for. Companies like Apple don't generally release the minimum, but you can be sure a lot of apps in the Apple App Store are minimum viable. The idea behind such is "release early and use the revenue to pay for the development of more features."

Hazel clearly prefers to poop outside, but if the outside is unavailable or too unpleasant, she'll just use that bathmat next to the toilet. (That's what that room is for, right?) That's the Earliest Viable Poop for Hazel, the poop before the walk even starts. If she was releasing smart phone apps, they'd do one thing, and just barely do it all.

Willie, he will make it clear when he wants to go out and when he needs to to out. And once out, if only at the "wants" stage, he uses his mental map to make a good guess about the walk length. Even if it's not a route he's walked before, he is good at sensing if it is now the return trip. When he guesses that it is past half-way (or on a route he knows well, more than three-quarters) then he starts to really pay attention to the good spots. Even in rain, where he has what we call "efficient" walks, the earliest viable poop is a half block away (which is also about the distance of the last viable poop on a regular return trip). He takes his time to find the right spot, and has standards about the whole business. His threshold for minimum product would not be solely based on the minimum a low discerning customer would accept, but the minimum someone with real choice would consider.

I like to think about these things on long meditative walks with Willie. I know there is a place for the barely complete solution, but remember it's on par with pooping on the bathroom floor. Technology and scat have more in common than people think. A bunch of stuff goes in, gets digested, and then a release is made to the world, sometimes with a lot of care about how it lands, sometimes not.