The General Approach to Computing - A Ramble

Tony Duell ard at
Mon Apr 27 14:00:34 CDT 2009

[Fast machines]
> >
> > Now that's something that's never bothered me .If my machine takes 10
> > minutes to complie my program, so what? I just do something else while
> > it's compiling. And it gets me to check my code before compiling it,
> > hopefully ending up with a etter program (the 'poke and hope' brigade
> > worry me -- changing things until the program compiles and/or runs)
> It depends on the size of the program. I work on a a program which  
> used to have a million lines of source code and on a 2GHz Intel  

Oh, I never said that there are no times when a fast machine is useful 
(or essential). Just that _I_ don't need one. I can think of many other 
things that are essential for other particular jobs that I don't need, too...

> I have been looking into getting the line printer working. There are  
> 120 off 100 microfarad 100v capacitors which hold the energy required  
> to fire the print hammer solenoids. Each on is about an inch diameter  
> and three inches long. The modern equivalent is tiny and will not even  
> reach between the holes in the PCB, but the leads can be extended. Of  

Yes, electrolytic capacitors have really shrunk recently...

> course they don't look right, maybe I should think about opening the  
> old cans and putting the new components inside. Maybe there are  
> harmful chemicals inside.

The valve radio restoration crowd do this all the time (cut open the old 
can carefully and put a modern component inside). AFAIK the chemicals 
aren't particularly harmful, obviously don't ingest them, and whash your 
hands after pulling the old capacitor apart, but I've never heard of any 
other precaustions being necessary.

Personally, though, I don't like doing this. To me, it's a form of 
faking. If somebody examines the machine in 100 years time (or whatver), 
are they going to correctly deduce why there's a tiny capacitor hidden in 
a large can? Or are they going to think it was made that way originally. 

It's a personal choice, though.

> I enjoy the intellectual task of finding the location of a logic fault  
> but not mechanical problems, they are just something which has to be  
> done, a pain in the backside.

I dont meind mechanical problems and repairs. Often, of course, the 
problem can een seen just by looking at it (mistiming of camshafts, etc, 
is another matter...). Of course you normally have to make the necessary 
part, but it's suprising what can be done in a home workshop...


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