PermaLink Low-tech and no-tech07/28/2008 01:37 PM
I had a good time living in the low-tech and no-tech world this weekend.

I think I mentioned, maybe on Twitter, that we were going to the Shenandoah Valley Steam & Gas Engine Association show in Berryville, Virginia this past weekend. I've gone every year since probably 1998, and have shown my little 1959 International Cub Lo-Boy several times. Didn't take anything to show this year, so we just went over, watched large, heavy objects pull other large, heavy objects on Friday night, then wandered around and looked at everything on Saturday.

I love you all and everything, but when the shit comes down, those are the guys you wanna hang out with. Guys who still know how to operate a 1921 Stanley steam touring car, or, for that matter, a 1902 steam tractor. Guys who can run a rough-cut sawmill, thresh grain, bale straw, grind grain with a stationary engine made in 1898, or make nails from scratch with a forge.

You know, post-apocalyptic sort of guys.

Admittedly, a forge or a drop-hammer aren't all that useful to fix corruption in a Domino view index, but if you don't even have electricity, let alone fiber-optic connectivity, some other things tend to take higher priority.

I admit, though, that one year I was there with my 1959 International, a 1962 International, and a 1969 International flatbed truck to haul it all, but... I also had one of my Segways, an iBook G4 933, a power pack, an inverter, and a solar panel to recharge everything. Back then I had to ricochet the iBook off a Sony-Ericsson GSM-only phone, but it worked.

I am not a purist, though the mix of new and old around our house puzzles a lot of people. I can do digital video production and make my own sausage and wine. I have never owned a new car but have never bought a used laptop. We have an 1840 house that didn't originally have plumbing or electricity, but in the years before DSL and cable modem, we had ISDN.

I can fix your Domino application, and your tractor.

Assuming you have at least one of each.

On the medium-tech side, I am both impressed with an annoyed by MTD, the people who now make Troy-Bilt. Despite my annoyance at having to buy an entire $36 carburetor rather than a simple $3 rubber primer bulb, the carb and other parts showed up the other day and I tried putting them in on Saturday afternoon. The replacement was simple, and they even included the updated throttle cable, since they had changed the design of the throttle lever on the new carb and the old cable would not fit. However, when I went to put the fuel lines on the new unit, the old fuel line, barely two years old, disintegrated into useless shit. It's not a common size (3/32" inner diameter) and not something you can just whip over to WalRusMart to locate. Today, I looked around on MTD's website, and while I didn't intend to order what ought to be a few cents' worth of plastic tube on there, I did discover that on certain models of their string trimmers, you cannot buy the fuel line and filter as a separate part. You have to buy the entire fucking fuel tank, for nearly $40.

Today I went to Lowe's about bought four feet of the tubing for about eight bucks. Of course, they didn't have the filter, but at this point, screw the filter, weeds are blocking the view out my front windows. A friend tells me the same filters are probably commonly-stocked items at hobby stores that specialize in radio-controlled model airplanes. But not, apparently, at places that actually sell gas power equipment.

MTD tends to turn everything they touch into fecal matter. Thus, I'll hang on to my old, original 1973 Troy-Bilt Horse rototiller and my four International Harvester Cub Cadets, not the MTD-built ones.

The network drive on the Apple Airport Extreme is such a success that I intend to hang a USB hub off the thing and put a few more USB drives on it. The performance is actually quite good over the network, even on 802.11g, better than the Linksys WRT54G I took out this month. Sometimes, it's faster to copy data from the MacBook Pro to the network drive than it is to copy from one USB external drive to another one on the same MBP. I can't figure that one out.

Oh, by the way, did you iPhone fanboys see this stunt?

T-Mobile Germany is sending pre-order customers for the iPhone 3G papercraft models of the phone, rather than the phone itself! Tonight on Fox News: customer orders Hummer H3, receives origami figure of a VW Thing instead.

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