That’s no moon…
With the fires up and down the west coast, the skies here in the Jet City have been filled with smoke for several days. As I was driving home last night, I noted this curious sight.
That’s not the moon. That is the setting sun at roughly 5:30pm. There is so much smoke in the air you can just stare directly into the sun. These are strange times.
I have always been a much more telephoto person where photography is concerned, with my favorite focal length being 85mm. But a recent project that had me taking photos in tiny showers in NY necessitated going much wider. Most of those were shot between 17 and 24mm.
With that in the bag, I started doing more experiments with wide angles, and it has finally led to getting the bizarre monster you see above. That is a 15mm f2/4 lens. To give an idea of how wide that is, I can take a photo of a 2 meter cabinet from less than three feet away. It’s insanely wide. I will try to work some weird wide angle stuff into the blog in the future.
The unseen advances
Our personal technology has progressed to such a point over the last several years that I think most of us probably take it for granted. We’ve moved past the awe and wonderment of the amazing things devices do and just take it as a normal part of the day.
If I am listening to a podcast when I walk out the door for work, of course it just starts playing over the car’s stereo when I start the engine. A message arrives from a friend on the other side of the country while I am typing this, and I can just respond as if they were sitting next to me? Totally normal.
The other day I sent a 12 character link to someone in California and within seconds they were reviewing a gallery of photos I had taken. These are all things that were unthinkable within most of our lifetimes. And now they are the routine. From 30,000 feet, it’s pretty remarkable.
One of the things that always gives me an appreciation for just how fortunate we are to have all of this technology at our disposal is when I get a better look at the nuts and bolts of what makes these things possible. Like the photo you see above. That is the business side of a laptop that is having an internal battery issue.
This view strips a bit of the magic away from all of those amazing things. Of course, as I type that, I am creating this entry on my laptop, while sitting at my desktop machine, logged into the laptop remotely over the network. And I am going to remotely click a pretend button and all of this will be live for the entire internet to see in a few seconds. It’s crazy how far we have come.
Picture Puzzle to end the week
It’s been a while since we did one of these, and I just stumbled upon this relic, so let’s see if anyone recognizes it. This one should be simple, if you are of a certain age. These have fallen out of fashion over the years, as technology progressed, but if you were around while they were in use, you definitely used one. Got it? Scroll to see the big picture.
It’s one of the spindles for the cassette player in this little boom box. For some unknown reason, this has been sitting on a shelf in the warehouse for more years than I can guess. I’ve never used it. Somewhat surprisingly, everything works. It gets radio and plays CDs. I didn’t actually test the cassette player, because I don’t have a cassette handy, but I’m assuming that’s ok too. Pretty crazy that this big clunky dinosaur has pretty much been relegated to the scrap-heap of history by phones.
How I Miss The Good Ol’ Days
That title has not told the whole story. The actual lyric is, “How I miss the good ol’ days, but I’m so glad they’re gone.” That is actually more appropriate for what we are looking at today.
For those familiar with the classic HP systems, you will recognize the item above right away. It is a terminator for an A-Class server. There are a lot of things I liked about the A-class servers. These terminators were not one of them.
The CPU connection, in general, was not one of them. For those unaware, what you see on the top of this photo is the same connection that the CPUs from this time used. What you might not see is how very delicate they are. Not only were they in danger of being damaged just from being out of the server. You could damage them just by taking them out.
In systems that had been in service for an extended time those delicate covers would kind of cook to the system board. When you pulled up the CPU for removal, you would sometimes leave a bunch of those little feet behind, disabling your CPU, or terminator.
It was a constant battle with new covers and testing this CPU then that CPU or that terminator. When you finally got a set together that worked, you locked it down and hoped it didn’t have to come out for another ten years.
Another odd bit from the dusty shelf. This relay is a tiny part of a much larger board that I don’t know the origin of. My best guess is that it comes from an elevator, based on the company name on the board.
How it ended up here is a bit of a mystery, but I have a theory. Over the years we have bought up a lot of the classic HP systems as customers upgraded to newer tech, while we continued to support the older systems. Often those shipments came with odd surprises. Pulling out that old system was often the opportunity to tidy the IT operations, and everything went in the same bucket.
However it happened, it does make for an interesting photo. I’ll grab a couple more shots of the board before it moves on to the recycler.
This is an odd find from the mid 90s. It is a fake three dollar bill. Not a good one, mind you. I would call it a twenty foot bill. If you see it from 20 feet, you might think it is possibly money. Any closer, and the illustion disappears.
I decided to go with the cropped version, showing the seal and the printing, rather than the full bill. Partly for a better look at the details. But mostly because this particular three dollar bill is a piece of political propaganda, and I have no patience for opening a 25 year old can of worms. 🙂
Here is a closer look at the printing. It’s almost laughable when you compare it to the earlier notes we photographed. But it is an interesting historical curiosity.
Blinded by the light
This is another odd random tech find from somewhere behind my monitor. It’s a bendable USB LED. Over the years I have bought a bunch of no-name and off-brand bits and pieces for the photography kit. Step up rings, speedlight mounts, extra batteries, etc. There is some weird thing with a lot of those where they include these odd accessories. I don’t remember what it was I ordered that came with the light, but as an example… I just bought a lavalier microphone, and it came with a lens cloth…
I haven’t actually found a use for the USB LED. It seems most situations where you might use it are better tackled by just pulling out your cell phone instead of finding where you left that weird USB thing.
Like new condition!
Another interesting relic from our computing past. I just turned up this old SCSI II terminator (in the middle of my ridiculous collection of other SCSI terminators) that is still new in box. I’m guessing this is round about 20 years old. SCSI II was originally published in 1990, which is somehow 30 years ago now…
It is a bit fascinating for anyone that has been in IT for a while to look back on all those technologies that we spent so much time with that are now not much more than a historical afterthought. Of course, with things like SAS, iSCSI, FCP, UAS, etc. SCSI hasn’t completely gone away. But when was the last time you found yourself wondering where you put that SCSI II terminator?
More oddities from the shelf
As we continue to do some clearing out of old storage, I stumbled upon this curious collection. It’s a small case filled with EPROMs. Based on what it was found with, my first thought is that these are for the formatter card in a 256X printer. However, the one that specifically says SCSI, gives me pause.
Amazingly, none of those part numbers appear anywhere on Google, so without diving in to the giant bookshelf of out of print manuals that never made it to pdf and the internet, I’m not sure what they are.
That is curious, but I think we can all agree that the answer is not really a pressing issue. I don’t anticipate a need for any of these at any point in the near, or far, future.
One more fun fact. Because we are looking at ridiculously old bits of kit, I dusted off the original Canon 7D (from 2009!) to take this photo. Of course, then I had to scramble to find an old USB cable that would connect to the camera, because I have no way to read a compact flash card here.
It wasn’t an elegant operation, but it does all still work!