Amazon Sorting Algorithms

 If you want a programming job with Amazon you have to cram for sorting algorithms like this:


But if you order 10 bottles of $0.97 acrylic paint this is what you get:


3 packages on one trip to the locker, one a cardboard box with a lonely $0.97 bottle of paint in it.

So the emphasis on sorting in Amazon interviews would appear to be well founded.

At least I have a box to put my paints in:

I am a lonely painter, I live in a box of paints. - Joni Mitchell

Warhammer Quest enemies in Advanced HeroQuest

You can play a WHQ variant with AHQ and some paper standees if you download the WHQ manual and treasure cards.

This is a way of combining Advanced HeroQuest with the miniatures from Warhammer Quest. You can use paper standups from the FB WARHAMMER QUEST! group if you don't have WHQ. You could print your own tiles if you don't have AHQ.

You play AHQ using the Map Generator software below (English and German), you have to  load the WHQ1 table, which I created (The program gives an error message, so you Options/Read Tables, navigate to the tables subfolder and load Than Map/Create Map.

If you export an image of the map, you can view it in a program that has layers such as, add a filled layer on top, which you erase as you go:

Then you can generate an AHQ map populated with WHQ Monsters and Treasure. 

The WHQ and WHQstandard folders contain the custom WHQ data. 

To play, you can use either AHQ or WHQ rules. Treasure is AHQ treasure cards.

Hidden doors solo, I'm thinking it takes 2 turns of searching even though you know where it is, a 1 in 3 of an Unexpected Event if you want to go through the door.

Sample Output

You can edit the data files for a dungeon with anything you like, such as the Wizards of the Coast Ravenloft: Castle Ravenloft AHQ

Download Map Generator

A strange meta-quest for treasure:

I bought 2nd edition Space Hulk on EBay. It appears to contain 2 shrink-wrapped packs of Warhammer Quest treasure cards. I bought Warhammer Quest from the same seller which had Treasure Cards Pack 3 shrinkwrapped in it. Could the 2 in the picture be Pack 1 and Pack 2? I might get a nice bonus, or I might find the seller mixes up random stuff and crams it into whatever box is close at hand.

Update: I did indeed get all 3 packs, plus a shrinkwrapped copy of the base treasure pack. Miniatures kinda lacking, I will 3D print the Minotaurs, use AHQ Skaven and all will be there.

Weird scenes inside the goldmine


Not really overpriced

Want to play a game, Buddy?

Here is a Terrance & Philip word game to play:

Me: "Want to play a game, Buddy?"

You: "I'm not your Buddy, Friend!"

Me: "I'm not your Friend, Guy!"

You: "I'm not your Guy, Dude!"

Me: "I'm not your Dude, Fella!

Repeat until Hesitation, Deviation or Repetition occurs. The last word must be previously unused, loosely equivalent to "Buddy" or "Guy", and delivered quickly.

Co-op version: Set a timer for 2 minutes and see if you can keep it up.

3 player version: If you said "I'm" last time, you must say "He's" this time, and vice versa.

The Canary in the Mineshaft Logical Fallacy.

John Scott Haldane (left).

John Scott Haldane was a Scottish Physiologist (who doesn't love Physiologists) who used to lock himself in a sealed chamber and document the effect of various gasses on humans. He invented a respirator for soldiers in 1915, the oxygen tent, the decompression chamber for divers and found that canaries would die more quickly that humans if Carbon Monoxide was present. Once wonders how may animals he got through before getting to canaries.

So the living Canary in the Mineshaft is a sign that all is well, we are happy to see the happy canary in the mine. But we do not believe that the canary is responsible for the lack of CO in the environment, merely a symptom thereof. 

Some people are used as an indicator of the fact that something has happened, but others actually assume that the person is responsible for the change, when they are merely a product of it. If a group is allowed more freedom, we note that some members of that group come to the public eye. Often, people assume that they caused the change, when like the canary, they are a symptom of it.

In Ireland (or at least in the South) it was said that folk would have a picture of the Pope on the mantelpiece beside a photo of John F. Kennedy*, the first US President with an Irish Catholic heritage. Some people seemed to talk as though Kennedy was personally responsible for much of the change, rather than a sign of the gradual acceptance of the Irish into mainstream US society. This fallacy makes heroes (who doesn't love heroes) out of canaries. The canaries may be heroes for other reasons of course, as with JFK.

Giving the individual canary all the credit also simplifies history. We can blame Neville Chamberlain for failing to prepare the UK for war, when very few wanted to prepare the country for war. Politicians generally come up with polices that will make them popular with the majority of the people, rarely did they single-handedly make those polices popular. 

So the logical fallacy is that if the canary is an indicator of the effect, it is not necessarily the cause:

Kris Kristofferson
Kris Kristofferson

* I was surprised to get an actual reference

Logitech 3D Extreme Pro Joystick spring modification

Post Surgery

 The Logitech 3D Extreme Pro has an extremely stiff spring for the roll and pitch. If you cut the top 360° and bend the top a bit to flatten out the contact at the top, this makes using the joystick less tiring.

See video below for disassembly instructions. You can remove the 4 brass screws without disassembling the stick part, with the screwdriver at a slight angle. It isn't very difficult to disassemble and reassemble. After reassembly the bottom of the stick had a bit of play, so I took it apart again and wrapped a rubber band around the base of the innards to remove this play.

The difference isn't dramatic, it seems to reduce the effort required to about a half. The stick re-centers itself as before and there is no rattle. Cutting off 1 full coil would therefore be conservative, you could go further.

The easiest option is to unscrew the 8 screws on the bottom, unscrew the 4 brass screws at an angle, remove the spring, reassemble and use 4 rubber bands to externally center the stick. This looks bad, but gives you a super low effort stick. If you need more tension, just double up the rubber.

Also, 3d printing a throttle on a cable seems like a good idea, although they want $50 for the .stl file.

This is simpler:

BC Services card and Android Screen Balance Service.

The green install button on Google Play stopped working. So did "OK" on Gnirehtet. The last app I could install was BC Services Card. Did it change my Samsung disability settings? If I turn off Screen Balance Service, Google Play works again. The point is that this is tapjacking, you aren't tapping on what you think you are tapping <mysterious chord>.

Sansamp GT2 / Behringer TM300 to SansAmp Classic conversion


Click to enlarge

TLDR: SansAmp make circuits to emulate vacuum tube amplifiers. Starting at $20. You can customize the circuit with a soldering iron to get you own custom sounds. If you already know how to make electronic things, this article will get you started.

The Behringer TM300 is the $20 (Sweetwater $27.82 USD shipped to Canada) version of the $300 SanAmp GT2, and is therefore something of a bargain, although the components are presumably cheaper. There is no 20$ copy of the SansAmp Classic, but the circuitry is similar.  Tweed/Brit/Calif on the GT-2 corresponds to Bass/Lead/Normal on the Classic. 

The Classic has an interface of 8 on/off switches, which is uniquely binary and nerdy. Each switch changes the values of 1 or 2 capacitors or resistors in the circuit, which lends itself to further customization by the user.

The switches on the Classic can be approximately duplicated on the GT2/TM300, you could drill a hole through the plastic on the TM300 and add an array of DIP switches, perhaps to the left of the on/off LED.

Here is the GT2 schematic (from TonePad), changes in red are the Classic switches:

Click to enlarge


The first 6 switches are implemented as shown above. There are 2 switches for the "Clean Amp", both switches together give you full "Clean Amp", but engaging 1 switch gives you a halfway effect. "Low Drive" adds a 1 meg resistor and 2.2n capacitor in-between 2 gain stages, so use a metal film resistor to reduce noise. The Mid Boost and Vintage Tubes settings are simple, "Bright" is the same as the bright switch on a lot of amplifiers.

Since the TM300/GT2 already has a 3-way microphone placement switch, I didn't implement the Speaker Edge and Close Miking, partly because the circuit on the Classic is less like the GT2 in the speaker sim section.

You could just pick the effect that most appeals to you and install a single toggle switch. On my original GT2 there was too much hiss on the Tweed setting at low gain. The "Clean Amp" switch would fix this problem. The 2 mid boosts look useful. Presence Drive would be like the "Hot" setting with the 1k resistor (top left) replaced by a 10k pot and always on.

To locate the components on the board, you will have to trace from the switches. Resistor code translator is here. So there is something of a puzzle for you, to be enjoyed by anyone who thinks that 8 DIP switches would be a great user interface.

(Simplified: Less gain, reduce the two 330k resistors to 100k. Vary the cap marked "2.2" at the top to vary low frequencies.)

The Bass setting on the Classic is scaled from the GT2 Tweed, but I think they both give the same mid cut notch. If you replace the 100k resistor with a 1M pot, you can vary the center frequency of the notch.

The other obvious mod would be 5 pairs of red LEDs on the output of IC2b for symmetrical clipping, or 5 LEDs in series on the output of IC2a for asymmetrical clipping. That would give a different distortion quality. You could replace the 1k resistor on S2a with a 10k "Presence Drive" pot to vary the gain on the Brit and Cali settings..

So, if you want a weekend project there you have it. There is a stripboard layout for the Classic, but that is a lot of work.

The surprising thing is that "British" is "California" with one capacitor changed. Just a bass cut goes from Boogie to Plexi. "Tweed" is "California" with less gain and a mid frequency notch. So you do a lot with very little using the SansAmp system. It is like a comedian who does 10 celebrity impersonations in 2 minutes, none of them are exact, but close enough to get the general effect.

Geddy Lee of Rush. No schematic for this though.

Dave Simpson get out of jail free licks

Dave Simpson has some generic filler trills for guitar in the video below. I tabbed it out in Guitar Pro. I find Guitar Pro difficult to use, so it isn't very consistent, but you can follow along with the video.

Click to enlarge

Caline "High Chief" may now be the Brothers Blues King of Tone.

Update at the bottom. TLDR, the gain is broken on 1 half, but I have a fix.

The Caline "High Chief" is considered a King of Tone Clone, but YouTube videos show that they don't sound the same, and the internal diode selector switches don't work on the "Clear" channel. But, the latest model has "Clear" replaced by "Drive".

Now, the Marshall Blues Breaker II pedal has a "Boost/Blues" mode switch, which bypasses the diode clipper stage for a clean boost. My guess is the the old High Chief has one channel on "Boost" mode where the diodes are bypassed, and the new model has both channels in "Blues" mode. 

So, you could add a DPDT switch to either model so you have a "Boost/Blues" on one side, like the Marshall Blues Breaker II for extra versatility. Since both diodes switches off would be close to the "Clear" setting, the new version should be more flexible. The Caline pedal is 43 USD shipped with a one month wait from China, so it cost about the same as a Blues Crab, which is a single Blues Breaker. I ordered one today, so my guess is that all the diode switches will work.


Clear becomes Drive

Boost/Blues = Clear/Drive

The gain controlling resistors are over 5 times greater in the online traced KOT schematic, but some of the color codes are painted over on the KOT:

Red painted over yellow

My guess would be that the 33k/27k resistors are really 3.3k/2.7k, slightly more gain to compensate for the 10k in series with the 100k drive resistor. It will be interesting to see if the High Chief has 3.3k/2.7k.

My theory would be that the bottom orange strips below are painted over red on the KOT. There seems to be a 2-tone on the bottom orange on both:

¿Orange over Red?

 Note to self, the KOT feedback loop cap on yellow stage 1 is measured on one unit as 750pF, which would cut more treble.


Cheapo KOT

Still no High Chief, but I did get a more literal translation in the mail today. The MA856 is replaced by the 1N4148, although the King of Tone sometimes uses 1N4148. 1N4148 has almost exactly the same Forward Voltage as the MA85, so that is a reasonable substitute. Schottky BAT-46 in series with BAT-54 has the same forward voltage as 1S1588 by my calculations. "We did run out of the 1S1588 years ago but got some more, if you want them just add a note when you order." according to Analog Mike.

The 33k/27k seems to be actually 33k/27k on the Cheapo KOT, are they copying the schematic or measured values, I don't know.

KOT, some have one yellow stripe, some have two, so there is no definitive configuration, a King of Clone is as accurate as anything else. I should get out more.

Update 2: It arrived, it is the old "Clear" version. 1 Bluesbreaker Mk 1 with less bass than the KOT, and a trebely "Clear" control to add injury to insult. Oddly, it has the original blue and yellow diodes the the original KOTs had, although they seem to be unmarked replacements.

They sent me the "Clear" version :(.

Compare to schematic. No 100k resistor on the schematic.

I drew this schematic 20 years ago, I never actually built one with my "boost" mode.

The Clear circuit is mostly a Bluesbreaker, but the Clear pot connects the input of the first opamp to the output of the second. The gain is so low that the diodes never clip. I can find out which resistor boosts gain and make the Clean a super distortion channel. Probably.

27k and 33k on the early black Blues Breaker

UPDATE: Solder a 15k resistor across R6 to make the Clear channel higher gain than the Drive. The diodes will now make a difference. You could use a 50k preset for fine tuning. 

There is a lack of bass, solder a 10nF cap across both C4 to fix that for the ex-Clear channel. I just left the Drive channel as is, a Blues Breaker. It doesn't have the KOT treble boost trimmers, but it is trebely enough.

Comment: The pedal with the R6 mod is pretty good for the money. I'm keeping the Clear on distortion setting and the Drive on Overdrive. My King of Clone is on Boost and Overdrive. The Chief has slightly less midrange the the King, both are very good though. 

Comment: I think R6 on the Caline is simply a mistake on the Clear channel, the 10k replaced by a 100k. This could be yellow painted over red on the KOT, so a transcription error. On the schematic above it is the (10k)5k resistor.

Cardboard Pedalboard


I can make cardboard dividers, and do a bit of duck tape upgrading. A carry handle might be possible.

My PlywoodOCaster has a Tremolo Stabilizer


It locks the bridge block in a fixed position, but because it is spring-loaded you can change the position using the whammy bar. It makes clanking noises acoustically, otherwise it works as intended.

Notice the Vintage style toneplywood grain at the bottom.