I wrote this September 25, 2017 but got busy and never published it. With WordPress’ publish by email, it is much easier than trying to use their goofy editor on the iPhone.

Russ On Computing

With the iPhone 8 Apple has finally done it: They have surpassed the performance of the current Intel x86 processor by a wide margin.

What does this mean? Well what is amazing is what they have done it with: an SoC about 1 cm square with a minimal heat sink that runs off of a sub 2000 mAh battery for basically all day. And at what cost? Of course Apple won’t reveal their R&D costs for the iPhone processor but the chip cost for the A11 in the iPhone 7 was estimated about $27 so extrapolating the A12 is probably about $30, and what does an Intel i5 of the type in the MacBook Pro 13″ that was thoroughly beaten in the benchmarks cost? Between $250 and 350!

Apple is not one to spend anything where it isn’t needed and does not produce the needed performance for best user experience- witness the complete reversal of stance on the PowerPC when it just couldn’t keep up with Intel x86 design and the future possibilities were dim at best!

Apple is working out how to leave Intel totally as soon as possible.

I have no doubt that there are ARM A12 Macs in the deepest engineering dungeons of One Infinite Loop and have been for some time; I remember a while ago Apple said the iPhone processor was working at nearly the speed of a several year old Core 2 Duo, I’m sure they had some test mules proving that then, now? There are likely many around with the bugs being worked out; general purpose personal computers do things quite differently than phones and must be able to run for hours on end at full processor speed without throttling. The iPhone processor has been optimized specifically for iPhone tasks, I don’t think it would take years to optimize the same chip for desktop or laptop duty and with such optimization significant speed advantages can be made for the personal computer application.

How will they leave Intel? The same way you get away from a spooked skunk: very carefully.

And I am sure Intel sees this coming, they are not stupid, so what does Intel have up its sleeve to counter such a move by Apple and shortly thereafter the entire PC universe?!? Well, their ARM efforts have pretty much failed, the Ultra Low Power chips have been a mild success but power 20% BETTER an Ivy Bridge i5 for one tenth the price? I surely doubt they have anything to beat that or even come close. Intel is not the only game in town, PC sales have been far surpassed by phone and device sales and there is little reason to see that change, few individuals really NEED the power of a PC of any kind to surf social media, check messages or watch cat videos.

A university lab came up with a processor with 1000 1 GHz cores that runs off of AA batteries(!), so there is much more that can be done even though transistors cannot get theoretically much smaller and processors cannot seem to get much above 4 GHz

I really think Intel’s only chance for much of a long term future is to buy into some other company, an ARM designer or builder of some color, if you can’t beat em, join em and take over from inside! Or maybe AMD will do it and as Intel dies a slow death, AMD will buy them at a fire sale price!

Sort of like Microsoft did with Windows, IBM is doing with Macs in all their offices and Apple did with personal computers, music players, phones and next- personal computers again! Now if they can just resurrect Steve Job’s brain to give them some dictatorial balance before Industrial Design appeal to consumers goes ape over usability!

I am not a betting man but how long do you think it will take until Intel dies or does a turnaround ala IBM and does something completely different, more like the way they started?

I finally published this April 7, 2019 because I read it and all my suppositions still hold! This is all I can add.

With the power, efficiency and cost of the ARM custom chips (like the T2), I think Apple will use such a custom processor for permanent built-in hardware compatibility and real-time decoding for x86 code Bootcamp like the old Digital Signal Processors (remember those?!?).

This will be needed until Microsoft gets on the ARM bandwagon 2-5 years later. Again, no facts, just thinking what seems logical.

Watching some videos about The Bakersfield Sound today, I really enjoyed Buck Owens, Dwight Yoakum, et. al., very influential to a budding musician, though I don’t play much country music anymore. I saw them together at a concert in the ’80’s and was really struck by their passion for their music and for original country music rather than manufactured hits.

My family also migrated from Oklahoma to the California Central Valley but a decade or two earlier so not really of the same group.

I watched the video ‘Under the Influence- How Outlaw Country keeps the renegade spirit alive’ but won’t share the link because as it got to the modern ‘outlaws’ including Waylon’s son and grandson they just got foul.

I didn’t realize just how ‘outlaw’ Bakersfield was, trying to ‘buck’ the ‘smooth, pop country sound’ of the Nashville studios, though I always liked that edge. So the Waylon and Willie inspired Outlaws a decade later were a natural outgrowth of the Bakersfield gang, a little bit harder and a little bit rougher. But still pretty clean by modern standards.

Here is a good primer on The Bakersfield Sound:


The ‘genre’ of ‘Outlaws’ was quickly taken over by The Studios as they manufactured more ‘Outlaws’ because now Outlaw was Country Pop, it all quickly spiraled down from there.

What’s interesting to me is: although the Outlaws were rough and wild partying characters, they actually were very respectful of others while many of the Nashville Studios were actually racist bigots bent on perpetuating their power no matter the cost, like many powerful businessmen of the time.

Reminds me of my saying:

“I have a problem with hypocrisy: I’d rather hang with hippies than hypocrites; their morals may be in question but at least they’ll tell you how they really feel about you!”

I appreciate the original Outlaws because though they lived rough lives they knew people didn’t really want to hear the gory details on stage, people came to listen and have fun, if you want the details read about their lives and bad decisions. I love the music, I don’t idolize their bad manners and general foulness, so I don’t read biographies though I know some about their lives.

I still don’t like the sound of most modern country, I don’t care what you call it.

I was thinking about old songs I hadn’t heard in a while and how difficult communication is. Music lyrics are unique: everything has multiple meanings, nothing is as it seems and it is meant to be this way! The song I heard on Dr. Demento ‘Polka-dot Undies’ is an enuendo-full example of this I won’t share.

I remembered a story I heard on NPR in 2000 about a band in Boston (yes, that is another song!) ‘Jim’s Big Ego’ and how they were producing music direct to the web and their great song Little Miss Communication.

I looked up the link I’d saved (yes, I still have some 20 year old bookmarks!) and the audio link was dead so I contacted NPR and Ariana responded with a new, working link and I listened to the 12 minute piece again, it was fun and explains many of the strange lyrics!

Listen if you love and want to make music, even includes an unprofitable but fun business plan!


Then turn it up loud and listen to the song, the type I used to listen to over and over on the floor in front of the record player trying to figure out what they were taking about! The old mp3 .com is long gone but ‘there is another’.


So I had a half hour to kill in downtown Boise this evening and I thought ‘perfect time to pull off a stealth gig!’ Remember those crazy things Neil used to do to keep the fans guessing?

So I went down to Radio Boise www.radioboise.org as they have great acoustics in their stairway. Said hi to Jess, the manager of the station and took my place in the corner of the first floor stair with my guitar and D harmonica: for some reason the acoustics are especially sweet here as you hear echoes from the basement level and from upstairs.

I played Long May You Run and my song Railfan Blues but there were just too many pesky people milling around listening to my music, not too stealthy. So I tuned it to dropped D and walked and played to work on my rhythm and went a couple blocks back to Idaho Street where I parked, perfect! Only a couple bikes passing by and a couple of workers finishing up their day across the street.

I played Albuquerque and World on a String then finished up with a rousing rendition of Ohio. I don’t do politics but I really feel this song sometimes, though these events happened when I was 7 years old…

No applause, no problematic requests for an encore, perfect stealth gig executed!

No paparazzi either so this picture is from a few weeks earlier when it was warmer….

IMG_8622The stairway is just behind the elevator to the left in the interior picture…

IMG_9827What do you do to get away and play?

Russell’s musical journey- in no particular order- Part 1

They broke up when I was 6 years old but they stopped touring in 1966 with their last concert at the now demolished Candlestick Park, because of the hysteria of Beatlemania. So I never had any direct experience with them besides going to Circuit Assemblies at the Cow Palace and seeing pictures of them playing there August 31, 1965 and thinking ‘wow, that was less than 10 years ago!’

A great photo essay of The Beatles in San Francisco (the intro photo is a crop from this):

Beatles in SF: Treasure trove of photos

But they were in all the music I had known, from the Easy Listening music my parents listened to and I enjoyed (KABL 96 AM and 98 FM, San Francisco) to pop, rock and even many of the classical music players were heavily inspired by the Beatles, some said it influenced the passion they put into play the music.

My dad listened to KKHI and KDFC, 24 hour classical radio, I believe KDFC is now a membership based station as there just wasn’t the commercial market to keep it operating in ‘Major Market Radio’ in the the Bay Area.

He had the pre-stereo hifi records of all the classical greats and I would listen to them while home sick from school: Carnival of the Animals, the famous recording of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 symphony with the live cannons and bells with the b-side an explanation of how they recorded it, Bach, Bruckner and Strauss.

I still have ‘Switched On Bach’ recorded completely with new fangled synthesizers in the early ’70s, I was quite intrigued by these sounds that were the direct descendant of the Theremin of Hollywood sci-fi fame…

I remember the hits, misses and controversy of the band members in the ’70s and vividly remember the tragic death of John Lennon in 1980. They really were leaders of an age though they weren’t always the easiest individuals to get along with personally, I guess. I think John Lennon was the only artist I have ever seen called ‘arrogant’ in The Watchtower!

I had heard of the Beatles 1969 Rooftop Concert, the last time they played live as a band, and have seen a few clips of it, like this one, but I guess I’ll have to buy the DVD to see the whole thing as Sony and Yoko don’t think highly of YouTube….

I like the description of the song ‘Don’t Let Me Down’:

“Written by John as an expression of his love for Yoko Ono, the song is heartfelt and passionate. As John told Rolling Stone magazine in 1970, “When it gets down to it, when you’re drowning, you don’t say, ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,’ you just scream.” ”

I appreciate the point he is trying to make in the illustration but as an actual near drowning victim myself, I know when you are drowning you THINK you can scream but you CANNOT. About all you can do is groan to yourself and try to stay afloat…

What do I learn from all this?

I feel: If music is your passion, play and sing with all your heart! But if fame is your passion, you will burn out yourself and all those around you, not to mention loose all connection with The Almighty.

It’s just not worth it, pursue spiritual goals FIRST, then indulge in your passions just because you love them, always knowing that there is something else that is infinitely more valuable.

So I will here publish one of my series; Russell’s Wacky Wisdom:


A great song is a religious experience you want to share with all your friends. But sadly, it isn’t the truth, so it fades after three and a half minutes….

I’m a bit of a musician and computer programmer so as my daughter told me about the Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry video ‘Windows 95 Video Guide’ (got through the first 5 minutes, I will not link to it, look it up yourself!) I was thinking about coding music, music to code by, music about coding.

So I looked up Macintosh ’95 and she said ‘Developers, developers, developers, developers!’, yes, you know where this is going! I must’ve watched this 100 times on my 486, my Mac 6360 and many others! I don’t know anything about where this vid came from but I had to show it to the wife and she was appalled at that big, sweaty, Dr. Phil impersonator!

So I looked up music by and for developers and came up with this pretty good rework of Killing In The Name Of, “Coding In The Name Of”:

Lots of interesting ‘developers music’ some not so bad but nothing that sticks in the brain like Monkey Boy Steve Balmer!

So anyway, here’s the video of my last show with my good buddy Joe the Pro, before my shoulder surgery December 11, 2017, I’m going to look into writing a computer programming song, I actually started on a Windows 95 song in 1995 but it never got anywhere, just crashed, I have the source around here somewhere….

I am reminded of a line from a Carpenters song “it’s a dirty rotten shame that all you get from love is a love song, but the best love songs are written with a broken heart” But the way Karen Carpenter sung it for years I thought it was “the best love songs are written with a broken arm”, so as a kid I kept thinking ‘what kind of a relationship is she in?!?’ So now that my right arm is in a sling for six weeks, I should probably write something and get that Carpenters song out of my brain!!!

Or: I like big tools and I cannot lie…

I am planning to move things around in the garage to make it more usable and organized with winter coming on. I have about 5×20′ at the back of the garage that would be the best location for all my tools and workbench, instead of spread around in all corners.
My problem is I have mechanic’s tools for working on our cars and tractors, woodworking tools, and a small 3 in 1 metal machining center. Wood work and metal work just don’t get along: Wood chips and dust get everywhere and make it difficult to make precision parts in metal; metal shavings get into things and make a mess as they are covered in oils and cooling fluid from the machining process. It is best to keep them separated by walls, dust control systems and good cleaning. But that doesn’t fit into a 5×20 foot shop or budget so I will have to make the best of it… Unfortunately, things are so tight and full of STUFF, I really don’t have any pictures I want to show so I will make a bit of a sketch, someday….
My biggest tool is my old 1989 12 by 22 inch 3 in 1 lathe I bought used in 1999. It sat in my old shop on the ranch covered for years and rusted up pretty bad, here is what it looked like when I uncovered it in 2014.
I hope to build an electrolytic rust removal system to get it cleaned up. Here is an interesting article on the subject.
It is small for most uses but I think it will work for the light stuff I plan to do. Lathes need to be big and heavy to machine metal, some guys with small lathes like mine have actually poured cement into the hollow columns on their machine for more mass! Here she is all cleaned off and ready to move. My lathe bench is an old steel desk like they used to have in shops and weighs almost as much as the lathe!
IMG_2727 copy

Electronic Upgrades for a Small Lathe

I have been thinking about DROs (Digital Read Outs) and VFDs (Variable Frequency Drives) for my lathe but I hate to plan on spending more than it is worth to fix up something that is pretty old and takes a lot of work to make precision parts. I don’t need perfection but I really don’t like tools that work against me rather than for me. This is a budget operation so I’ve got to work with what I’ve got for now and once it proves itself and I can sell some of my products, I will think about upgrading.
I like the iGaging DROs, they look like good basic units and a complete set of 3 can be had for about $130.
iGaging DROs-2
For something a little nicer, this guy has come up with a wireless Bluetooth adapter to display the dro on an android tablet:
Here are a couple of screenshots from his video linked in the forum above:
And this Gold N DRO has magnetic mounts but the price is double:
I like the magnetic mounts but can probably make them myself with stick on magnets…
Of course, if you want something really slick and cheap you could just use a Harbor Freight digital caliper and some magnets to attach it to your machine like this guy:

Variable Speed Drives

My 3 in 1 is only 1/2 hp but I was thinking 1/2 to 3/4 hp wouldn’t be bad if it was direct drive or single reduction via multi-V belt with VFD instead of two-stage V belts. I’ve found VFD kits and parts for about $300 for a 1 horsepower single drive setup, I would rather have a separate drive for the mill (mine is geared off of the lathe drive and when the lathe drive is disengaged the power feed is turned off, not the ideal situation…) but have never really used the mill so will wait on something like that until I have a real need…

So Where To From Here? I am Not  Professional, But I Play One on TV…

This white paper on ROI (Return On Investment) for professional machine shops is bigger than what I do but it came up on my Facebook feed and I like the questions it poses:
  • What is the most comprehensive way to determine the return on investment of a CNC machining center?
  • How does the performance of a machine tool impact return on investment?
  • What factors should I consider when investing in a CNC machining center?
  • How can I justify the purchase of a new machine tool to company ownership and accounting?
  • What is the long-term financial impact of purchasing a new manufacturing system?
  • Is it better to lease or buy a machine tool?
  • How do I determine the return on investment of automation?
  • What impact will automation have on the bottom line of my manufacturing business?
How about I rewrite these for the home shop:
  • What is the best way to justify $6000 worth of equipment to my wife?
  • How does the performance of a machine tool effect my marriage?
  • What factors should I consider when investing in a CNC machining center instead of a diamond ring?
  • This is a repeat of first question, do not do that.
  • What is the long-term sexual impact of purchasing a new manufacturing system instead of that diamond ring?
  • OK, I think that is enough…
Equipment for the home shop is very expensive and it helps to have information to justify the cost, though the big ‘two-dollar’ words they use in this ad to appeal to executive types kind of grate on me…
I haven’t downloaded the actual paper yet, you have to have an account and except their marketing materials or something, not really what I need.


Some resources for home machining, much of this blog post is from discussions at these places:

The Home Machinist! A site dedicated to enthusiasts of all skill levels and disciplines of the metalworking hobby.

Model Engineering Email List (the engineering and construction of working models)

Hobby Machinist and Homemade Tools group on Facebook

The depth of knowledge and wisdom of these guys (and a few gals) is truly awesome! I have been on the Model Engineering List for years, the Facebook groups are new but I really like the format for quick questions and posting brief updates of progress on a project, the problem with Facebook is it is completely ‘what have you done for me lately’ oriented, you can save things and you can search for things but unless you know the exact title it is practically impossible to find old things and of course it is exclusive; you must be a member of Facebook to see or do anything there and many chose to abstain as Facebook wants to know everything about you and likes to add tracking codes to all links off Facebook, then you notice ads for machine tools popping up on completely unrelated sites, all thanks to their amazing tracking abilities!


The lead photo is Louie McDermott’s shop, Oakland, California, where the locomotives for the Overfair Railway were built:

Overfair Railway Inventor Louis McDermott-PPIE100.org

While working on a post about the Equifax data breach, this came up. I don’t know how to state how foolishly overconfident Microsoft can be!!!

Windows 10 includes a utility called Windows Subsystem for Linux which allows you to use low level BASH commands on Windows 10, these commands are directed to WSL which then executes them as interpreted in Windows without using a Linux Virtual Machine. Sounds simple enough and it is, it is also pretty easy to automate a command to activate this functionality EVEN THOUGH IT IS TURNED OFF BY DEFAULT. Wow.


They call it Bashware

A quote:

” “We reviewed and assessed this to be of low risk,” a Microsoft spokesperson told me in an email about Check Point’s technique. “One would have to enable developer mode, then install the component, reboot, and install Windows Subsystem for Linux in order for this to be effective. Developer mode is not enabled by default.”

However, according to Bashware’s creators, “it’s a little-known fact” that entering the developer mode can be achieved by modifying a few registry keys and this can be done silently in the background by an attacker who has the right privileges.”

Yes, this is a complex hack but it will not require any more user intervention then standard phishing scams and once activated it is undetectable to ALL CURRENT SECURITY SOFTWARE. And this has been known for a year and still goes undetected!

Another quote:

“During their tests, the Check Point researchers found no security products that monitor pico processes, even though Microsoft provides a special application programming interface called the Pico API that can be used to do this.”

All I can suggest to people is JUST SAY NO TO WINDOWS, you’ll thank me later.

You really need a computer that works FOR you, not against you!

Want a good consumer Operating System? Mac OS is the way to go. Afraid of the high prices? A four year old used Mac is less than Half the price of new and will do basically the same thing as a new one.

Want a good pro OS? Then I don’t have to tell you Linux is the way to go, or just use a Mac and you have a BSD Unix variant that is fully POSIX compliant and with a few tools added you can do it all; Mac, Windows (in a protected environment) AND the Linux of your choice.

Want a REALLY high end machine, no matter the cost? Try the upcoming iMac Pro, available with a 12 core processor and 128 gigabytes of RAM. If you have to ask the price, it’s not for you, the ‘starter’ iMac Pro will be $4999 in October!

Here’s the whole article for your enjoyment:

Windows 10’s Built-In Linux Shell Could Be Abused to Hide Malware


A Minor Update

I know the left bay is a lean-to for project storage but why not lay some rails anyway? Hmmm….



Last Saturday August 26 at the auction they had this stack of 230 studs. I figure I could have gotten it for $300 and had enough to build woodshed, engine house, chicken pen and still have 20 left! But sick and broke so I’ll check again at the preview again Friday!


With the possibility of another mine tram in the area and the possibility of another BAD winter, I have been working on my idea for a ‘portable panelized’ woodshed and have expanded that into a ‘portable panelized’ enginehouse! If the Black Canyon Tram is going to have equipment, it needs a place to store it! So I have been searching for inspiration on the net and found some things that look good.
I am still sick with the flu after 10 days, though I did manage to spend an hour out working on the spot for said engine house this afternoon.
It will be 8×24 feet with a 8×24 foot lean-to (on the left) to keep projects covered, unfortunately there won’t be room for my tractor as the building would have to be 12 feet tall and everything would have to be bigger and stronger to have proper wind resistance (we get at least one spring storm with 50 mph+ winds around here each year, so you must be prepared).
The spot behind my ‘pickup kit’ was a pile of hay when we moved in 9 years ago and we really haven’t done much with it. In clearing the area along with about 10 pounds of baling twine, I found there was a tarp buried under 6″ of old hay and 6″ of sand, not sure what for but it is out now. Four wagon loads of old hay went to the compost pile.
Now it is all cleaned up and watered down, ready for measuring and leveling. The stakes and string show the approximate location of the building but the corner on the left, where the two shovels are, will have to be left off to allow a driveway to access the backside of the property, so the lean-to will only be 16 feet long instead of the full 24 feet.
Remember the bad joke: “Do you know how New York City saved millions? The Japanese invented a shovel that leans on itself  for $10,000 and they bought thousands of them!”
I will post my sketches of my ‘portable panelized’ design in the future but it is designed to be put together and taken down by two people in a few hours, set in concrete deck blocks for proper ground contact and staked and strapped down for wind resistance. It will qualify as a portable structure and in an agricultural area and does not need a building permit but it is important to build it safe, even if it is portable.
So all can see just where it will be located I placed it on my original Black Canyon Tram plan from 2009. The plan is not entirely accurate and the aerial photos from 2009 were pretty blurry but I think you’ll get the picture:
Black Canyon Tram2