Saturday, August 8, 2020

Texas Instruments TI-35 Plus Vintage Calculator Repair

I bought my TI-35 Plus scientific calendar in 1990, the same year my son was born.

It was purchased to get me through my Aircraft Electronics math courses at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, Wisconsin. I graduated from that program with honors & a 3.9 GPA, straight-A student in the Spring of 1993.

The calculator served me well for a few years, but then it was relegated to my tool box after I started math courses at MSOE, where a TI-88 graphing calculator was mandated.

I later gave the TI-88 to my stepson, who was taking a dual-bachelor of engineering program at UI Champaign-Urbana around Y2K.

By then the batteries in the TI-35 (Eveready 357) were long-drained and cheap drugstore calculators were all over and abundant.

Still, I kept the TI-35 around, more for nostalgia than anything else.

Well, here in August of 2020, I pulled out the vintage TI-35+ and attempted to put fresh batteries in after a little rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip (Standard electrical contact cleaning technique I learned in the Air Force) to clean the green oxidase fuzz off the battery contacts. 

The calculator turned on, but the display was super dim, and I had to turn the calculator at a steep angle to see the 30-year-old monochrome black LCD display, but the calculator worked and was able to do calculations.

After trying several other new batteries in the calculator, I began to suspect that the plastic contact tabs were broken.

I did a search online to see if it might be possible to get the old calculator repaired, and all that came up was people talking about repairing their own.

One fellow was talking about cleaning the contactors with Scotch-Brite, which I don't have handy. However, I do have fingernails and paper towels. Paper can often act like a super-fine sandpaper. I used my fingernail to clean the worst of the oxidase off, and then used the paper towel piece to polish it until they shined.

The result was a fully-functional 30-year old scientific calculator, and an old friend brought back to life, as you can see below.

The part of the contactors that touches the battery must be thoroughly cleaned and polished.

A working TI-35 Plus after 29 years sitting idle.

I took it one step further: After 21.5 years in long-distance telecommunications and working with DC power cabling, I had learned the benefits of Noalox. What Noalox does is coat the metal with conductive grease (has zinc suspended in the grease for conductivity) and prevent the oxidation that naturally occurs when two dissimilar metals come into contact. This is made worse by the flow of electrical current. I put a Q-tip dab of Noalox on each contactor.


Friday, August 7, 2020

Blogger Finally Getting Development Work From Google!

I have been using Blogger-dot-com blogs since around 2002. Google bought it circa 2004, if I recall correctly.

I have been doing several updates on the style of my *Spell Book* poetry blog ( ) on Blogger.

I don't think Google had put any development effort into Blogger in a decade or more. All of a sudden in the past couple of weeks, I am noticing some definite modernization of the layout and post editing interfaces. This is good news, because it makes it more likely that Blogger will be maintained.

Now if they just upgrade the mobile version design...


Sunday, August 2, 2020

A Love-Hate Relationship With The Modern Web & Smartphones

There is more information at our fingertips than has been the case for all of human history, and it has never been a tougher slog to read it.

There are things I love about smartphones and the modern web, and things I despise.

I'll save the love for last... In each category.

Let's dive into smartphones first, and what makes reading information on one such a colossal pain in the ass:

* Notifications - Yeah, yeah, I know you can turn off notifications for this and for that. I know you can turn off all notifications. 

The former is a butt-load of work to go through and tweak. You have to find the individual notifications in some dark creepy sub-basement corner of your smartphone settings and hunt them like rats in underground Chicago.

The latter leaves you the equivalent of deaf and blind in cyberspace, locked in the bubble of some pocket cyberververse of your own making. It's peaceful, but it's isolated and you have no idea what might be hitting you like a bad radiation field or a missed grocery request from your spouse. (I'll let you decide which is worse)

Why the hell isn't there an easy way to just touch a button on an interesting article that's like "Shields up, Keptin!"?? I mean right there in the browser or app?? One that resumes notifications to your specified settings (The rats you thought were cute) as soon as you leave the web page. Even the Enterprise turns the shields off after the intergalactic conference is completed and the diplomats have beamed back to their own ships.

* Video and audio ads - These winky-blinky, blast your eardrums and speakers out demons from advertising Hell are better-suited to advertising ADHD drugs than actual products. I'm here to read something, which requires focus and concentration. You know, the very things your advertisement just destroyed? It's like dropping a dump truck load of raw sewage in the middle of my rented beach cottage on my ten-minute vacation. Seriously, screw you. Not only do I not look at those or listen to them, I actively seek ways to disintegrate them, and if I could, their creators. Remember the "shields up" button? I mean seriously, these things are the Borg of the cyberverse. 

* Screen dimming - even when I can finally get to a relatively peaceful bubble of information, as soon as I leave my finger off the screen for a few seconds, it dims, completely disrupting my focus as I desperately attempt to prevent the dreaded screen lock from shutting down the phone. This is particularly annoying when I am working one-handed in the place where reading on smartphones is both most common and most appropriate, if you catch my whiff. Another use for the magic button.

I want a button that's the equivalent of Castiel drawing Anokian wards, Sam & Dean pouring a salt circle, and Rowena casting a loud spell over a burning smoking crystal bowl of bat nards and unicorn teeth.

I miss Blogger blogs. I might just go back to reading them exclusively because they are generally quiet, well-decorated, thoughtful, and best of all, non-distractive. They are the web version of British print magazines. (I say British because they dont generally do the asshat trick of "continued on page 897" when the part of the article you're reading is on page five. 

I even used to read the ads in print magazines, it was part of the fun and didn't piss me off. Static banner ads the same as long as they didn't get to the point of cluttering the entire page.

So what do I love about reading on smartphones? Portability, of course! They take up less room in that appropriate place than a stack of magazines, and you don't need a clip-on light to read yourself to sleep.


Saturday, August 1, 2020

August 2020 Forecast - Astro Butterfly

August 2020 may be the Leo/holiday/let's-have-some-fun season… but this particular August is as cardinal and action-packed as you can get.
Mars in Aries squares the BIG 3 – Jupiter, Pluto and Saturn in Capricorn – for the whole month of August!
We have the individual (Mars in Aries) vs. the establishment (Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn).
But that's not all war. In addition to the tense Mars squares, August will also bring us multiple sextiles and trines, including two grand trines – in Earth and Water signs. Yes, in August we will also take the time to smell the roses.

August 2nd, 2020 – Sun Square Uranus

August starts with a BANG. The Sun is square Uranus. The Moon joins the outer planet stellium in Capricorn. Mercury in Cancer opposes this stellium. AND Mars in Aries squares it.
August 2nd gets the gold medal for the most intense day of the month. Try to keep your cool (if you can).

August 3rd, 2020 – Full Moon In Aquarius

The Full Moon is at 11° Aquarius and it is square Uranus at 10° Taurus. This is a key Full Moon because 1) it is in Aquarius, so it will give us a taste of the upcoming Age of Aquarius 2) it triggers the Saturn-Uranus square.
If you want to know how 2021 will be like (spoiler alert, still difficult, but MUCH better than 2020) pay attention to this Full Moon.

August 5th, 2020 – Mercury Enters Leo

On August 5th, 2020 Mercury enters Leo – and our thinking and communication become more proud and confident. No more hiding behind a rock (Mercury in Cancer). Speak out. Deliver that message. Roar the truth.

August 5th, 2020 – Venus Conjunct North Node

On August 5th, 2020 Venus is conjunct the North Node of the Moon at 26° Gemini. Venus has been in Gemini for a looong time, exposing the duality and the double standard of our society.
Venus conjunct the North Node is the silver lining – because yes, everything happens for a reason.
The North Node always asks "What's in it for me?". Reflect on what was going on in your life in the past 4 months, and especially during the Venus Retrograde (May 13th-June 25th).
How can you turn the confusion, the conflict, or the contradiction into an opportunity? Into something that can work in your favor?
Let Venus guide you in finding the best approach moving forward. Listen to your feelings, to what makes sense to you, to what 'feels' right.

August 7th, 2020 – Venus Enters Cancer

Great news!
On August 7th, 2020 Venus enters Cancer. 'Great news' not only because Venus feels good in the sign of the Moon, but also because Venus finally changes signs after a record of 4 months spent in the sign of Gemini.
What needed to be done has been done. What needed to be said has been said. Now it is time to take a deep breath and make sense of all this with our heart.

August 13th, 2020 – Mars Square Pluto

On August 13th, 2020 Mars (23° Aries) is square Pluto in Capricorn.
This is INTENSE and this is just the beginning. Mars square Pluto is not for the faint of the heart, however since this aspect lasts for no less than 5 months, we will all have to deal with it.
Mars is our personal will and Pluto is the universal will. Aries is the individual and Capricorn is the institution.
People have been fed up with how the world operates for a long time now, building up frustration and hopelessness.
The unusually long Mars-Pluto square could be that last straw. Mars triggers Pluto. Yes, Pluto is powerful, but Mars is in domicile in Aries. Pluto may be up for a surprise. The Age Of Aquarius is around the corner.

August 15th, 2020 – Uranus Goes Retrograde

On August 15th, 2020, Uranus goes retrograde. Every time Uranus changes direction, the world seems to turn upside down.
The usual advice you get when you deal with Uranus is to "expect the unexpected" because this is what Uranus does. It disrupts the status quo. It changes the unchangeable. It moves the unmovable – yes, even when Uranus is in Taurus.
But worry not. Uranus only brings those changes that are truly needed, so you can move forward with your life.
You've probably heard this hundreds of times, but every time we have a Uranus transit, and our reality does get disrupted, this remains a great reminder.
You will be especially influenced by Uranus' station if you have planets or angles around 10° Taurus.

August 17th, 2020 – Sun Conjunct Mercury

On August 17th, 2020, the Sun is conjunct Mercury at 25° Leo which means we are already in the middle of the current Mercury cycle which started on July 1st, 2020.
What's interesting about this Mercury-Sun conjunction is that it is at the apex of an aspect pattern called Yod, or Finger Of God.
The aspect is called "Finger of God" because it literally looks like someone pointing to something very essential about our mission in life.
Pay attention to any insights that come to you around this date, especially if you have planets or angles around 25° Leo.

August 18th, 2020 – New Moon In Leo

On August 18th (in the Americas) or August 19th (in Europe/Asia) we have a New Moon at 26° Leo. The New Moon is conjunct Mercury and it is trine Mars in Aries.
Leo is the sign of creativity. But what is creativity?
Creativity is not about following trends. Creativity is who you are. The process of creation, at its core, has nothing to do with the world outside – with other people, or with learning new things.
It is simply about connecting to our inner selves and allowing that light to shine through.
The Sun rises every day, giving us warmth and light. The Sun doesn't need to be something that it is not.
The New Moon in Leo is our yearly reminder that all we have to do is BE. When we truly connect to ourselves – with our true selves – we automatically know what we need to do. Being ourselves fully is the greatest gift we can give to the world.

August 20th, 2020 – Mercury Enters Virgo

On August 20th, 2020, Mercury enters Virgo. Mercury in Virgo is the very best Mercury placement (Mercury is both in domicile and in exaltation in Virgo).
So if you were planning to do "Mercury things", Mercury in Virgo (August 20th – September 5th, 2020) is the best time of the year to undertake them.

August 22nd, 2020 – Sun Enters Virgo

On August 22nd, 2020, the Sun enters Virgo.
Welcome to the Virgo Season, or that time of the year when you can wear your Virgo hat and do what Virgos do: get organized, take care of your health, get new routines in place, learn new things, and become more productive.
This year the Virgo season will also bring a beautiful Grand Earth Trine with Jupiter in Capricorn and Uranus in Taurus.
Something to look forward to, especially during these turbulent times. The Grand Earth Trine will be active from August 25th until September 10th.

August 24th, 2020 – Mars Square Saturn

On August 24th, 2020, Mars in Aries squares Saturn at 26° Capricorn.
If Mars square Pluto is an explosive aspect, Mars square Saturn is an implosive aspect. By no means less intense, but inside Saturn's rings, we have no choice but to contain whatever comes as a result of our actions.
With Mars square Saturn, we have to clean our own mess.
And this can be extremely extremely frustrating… but also extremely extremely productive and rewarding.

August 26th, 2020 – Venus Opposite Jupiter

On August 26th, 2020, Venus is opposite Jupiter along the 17° Cancer-Capricorn axis.
As mentioned, in between Mars squares, Uranus retrograde or other disruptive aspects, August will also give us opportunities to smell the roses and enjoy life.
Venus opposite Jupiter is one of these opportunities.

August 30th, 2020 – Venus Opposite Pluto

August 30th, 2020 Venus in Cancer is opposite Pluto in Capricorn.
If Venus opposite Jupiter is about enjoying life, and focusing on what's positive and inspiring, Venus opposite Pluto is about peak experiences of any kind.
Many people say that the purpose of life is happiness. But what is even more important than feeling good? Feeling alive. Having the complete human experience.
And this is what Venus opposite Pluto will deliver.