Posts in the Me category

Look at me ... I'm Doctor Zoidberg, Home Owner!

Welcome to home ownership. I've discovered that, like a lot of software, it's full of bugs. Not the traditional creepy crawly insect kind of bugs - the other kind. Usability issues. Design issues. Downright mistakes.

So Friday night we officially took ownership of the place. We waited until the legally appropriate 9pm, opened the door and...

... well, actually, we didn't get as far as opening the door. The key we had only opened one of the locks - the deadbolt, it would appear, was locked. Not the best of ways to get into the home ownership mood. Kind of puts a damper on the whole first-time-buying experienced. Frankly - and this is putting it bluntly - it harshed my mellow.

(We eventually got in when we found the garage door opener in the mailbox... not the smartest of locations to leave it in. Our real estate agent is officially pissed on our behalf and is going to have harsh words with the selling agent. Good thing him and his assistant are available on the phone up until 11pm at night).

Anyway, back to the bugs. One previous owner of this home appears to have been either a very very bad contractor, or an avid Do It Yourselfer. Let's call him Mr. DIY, whether he is or not. He may even be more than one person - who knows? Anyway... Mr. DIY appears to have had a penchant for... well.. screwing things up.

Let's look at the list, shall we?

The Replacement Water Heater

The original water heater needed replacing (it's kaput). So we got a new one. Which required new venting (the original was not up to code), new earthquake protection (original not up to code)... and le piece de resistance: being hoisted up over a set of stairs in the garage to get it out, and to get the new one in.

This is because Mr. DIY built shelves in the garage which blocked the water heater, as well as getting a new furnace installed - right in the way of the water heater. Bravo Mr. DIY.

But wait... blocking water heaters isn't all that Mr. DIY is good at! He's also great at:

Mystery Lighting Wiring

(Which isn't just a mystery, but also wasn't up to code).

The Dimmer in the Dining Room!

It Doesn't Dim - it just Turns On And Off!!!

    (...and is COMPLETELY ungrounded!)

The Hallway Of Terror!

Does the downstairs switch turn it on? Does the upstairs? NOBODY KNOWS!

(well, actually, both have to be turned on for the light to work... which is not how you wire up 3-way lighting)

The Utility Room Of Doom!

It'll make you dizzy! You won't know whether you're coming or going! EACH SWITCH WORKS DIFFERENTLY!

(because, as we all know, it's impossible to make two switches both turn on when you flick them the same way)

Still, these are all reasonably easily fixable. I've not checked out all of the other outlets in the house to see if they need any kind of fixing yet. But that's next on the list.

It has been kind of a busy weekend though... we repainted one room, replaced all of the locks (twice - apparently You Get What You Pay For - don't buy cheap locks unless you know what size the holes in your door are), fixed the dimmer, installed fan timers in the bathrooms, started fixing the hallway light, replaced the water heater (well, ok, we paid someone to do that - after all, you don't want to mess around when it comes to methane), did a little trimming back of a few vines in the garden, bought all kinds of bits and pieces (including a garden hose), bought new plants for inside the house... replaced burnt out lightbulbs...

I must admit, I didn't expect to need to do all of this stuff right now. But needs must, I guess.

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Welcome to the Accidental Scientist. I'm Simon Cooke, and this is my blog. I'm a senior software engineer at a startup company in Seattle, where I program embedded and Windows software. I used to work at Microsoft (on the .NET framework), and at Sierra (on Generations and Photo Lab).

My interests include writing screenplays, making movies, and just general chicanery.

Once upon a time, I used to be a freelance journalist - but if you remember me, it's probably because of the regular column I wrote for Your Sinclair magazine (oh, the nostalgia!). Or you might have seen some of the articles I wrote for .net magazine, Internet Today, Internet & Comms Today, Net User, How To Get Online, or arcane.

How I got started on all of this was the SAM Coupé - a little-known British computer that came out in the early 90s (although my first system was a ZX81, it wasn't until I got the SAM that I started to accelerate). Once upon a time, I ran a demo programming team called "Entropy" - we put out a few demos, which you can run on the SAM Coupe Emulator SimCoupe.

So that's it. Welcome. You'll find all kinds of weird ramblings here - everything from snoring cures (no, seriously... I think about this stuff and dig out what info I can) to utilities and bits and pieces. At least, that's the plan.

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