Intel's Ronler Acres Plant


Silicon Forest
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Friday, January 21, 2022

New Albany in the News

Intel's Rohler Acres Fab
I don't know how many billions of dollars they have sunk into this plant,
but defintely more than one.

 'New Albany' sounds like the name of a colony on another planet in a science fiction novel, or maybe that's just because I haven't had my first cup of coffee this morning. However, it is a small town just northeast of Columbus, Ohio. What about old Albany? I mean, if there is a new one, there should be an old one, right? That would be Scotland.

Back when I was in high school we lived on the orchard northeast of Columbus and driving to the big city took you through New Albany. Back then it was just a crossroads with maybe a gas station.

This morning I got an email from California Bob:

From Reuters News:

Intel to invest up to $100 bln in Ohio chip plants

Intel Corp said on Friday it would invest up to $100 billion to build potentially the world's largest chip-making complex in Ohio, as it looks to boost capacity amid a global shortage of semiconductors used in everything from smartphones to cars.

I thought it was weird when Abercombie & Fitch built their headquarters there, but maybe they were onto something. Beaverton, Oregon is home to Tektronix, makers of electronic test equipment, so Intel was could be pretty sure there was a technologically competent workforce here. Columbus is the state capital. North American Aviation used to have a plant there. Ohio State University and Batelle are there, so sort of the same thing.

Ohio is part of the Rust Belt that has been in decline since 1980. I suspect the unions are not as strong as they used to be, which could make it more attractive to giant corporations.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Bob

Very clever Al. Every line of the lyrics is a palindrome. Not sure I ever heard this song before, on the other hand it does sound like Bob Dylan, so I may have heard this tune and thought it was Dylan, not Al. This tune came out in 2003.

Biker Chick

Nancy setting off for a motorcycle rally in England, 1934.
80 piece jigsaw puzzle

Nancy Debenham and her sister Betty were avid bikers back in the 1930s. Sheldon's EMU has a note about them.

Sheldon't EMU seems to be quite the motorcycle site:

Sheldon's Emu began as a collection of articles, letters and emails about European motorcycles, the result of research and correspondence dating back to 1994. It now covers several thousand different marques, many of which have extensive archives including images and specifications. The site relates to vintage, veteran and classic motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, with numerous pages on road-racing and off-road competition machines.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Our Modern, Computerized Life

Jean Jennings (left) and Frances Bilas set up the ENIAC in 1946. Bilas is arranging the program settings on the Master Programmer. - Courtesy of University of Pennsylvania

Seems like lately we have been running into a plethora of computer system problems. Not the computers in our house, they are all working fine. I'm talking about the big computer systems at the other end of wire, the systems we are talking to to get what we want.

RUST sports took over the Trail Blazers basketball games from NBC Sports Northwest (I think I have the names right) a couple of months ago and ever since we have been seeing video glitches during the games. I can understand one once in a while, but we are getting glitches every few minutes. It's annoying because it shouldn't be happening. It's very annoying when it happens in the middle of some high paced action, you can't see what happened. We are paying big money for this stuff and their ham handed handling is irritating. 'Big money' is a relative term, I think we paying about $60 a month to watch the Blazers, which is like four times as much as Netflix.

Two days ago we tried to watch a movie on HBOMAX and we couldn't. We pointed and clicked, dialed numbers, listened to stupid robo-cop answering systems, but got nowhere. Everything goes through Ziply Fiber and they were reporting widespread problems in Oregon, and at the end of a long slog we got a message saying that customer service was only open during business hours, like 8 to 5 Monday thru Friday, so we gave up for the night.

We got back on the problem yesterday afternoon. After what seemed like a couple of hours, two laptops,  and endless repetitions of logging onto sites I haven't used since the last time we ran into this problem, we finally got it resolved. I think the trick that finally got it working was to logoff of HBO on the ROKU box and then log back in. I didn't even know you could do that. On the plus side I learned something new about the ROKU, but on the negative side it was information I didn't want to know. I would say we never have this problem with Netflix, but I am afraid I might jinx us and I don't want that, so I won't.

It seems I have been having to call Walgreens every month for the last six months or so, ever since they hooked up with Alliance Rx to do their delivery-by-mail service. It usually takes two phone calls. The first call reliably fails, either I get disconnected or I get an operator who doesn't know what they are doing and nothing gets fixed, but the second usually connects with someone who is able to correct the problem in short order. It's probably not always two, but that's the way it seems. Maybe two is just the average, but I don't keep track, but that's what my memory is telling me. Always reliable, me memory.

We won't talk about how a couple of changes in the medical business took an endless number of calls to get sorted. My cardiologist closed his practice and moved to another one, and my wife decided to change my prescription insurance. Either one of those events would have been a nuisance, but together they were a nuisance squared.

Having a decent speakerphone in my smartphone means I don't have to hold the phone, I can lay it on the desk and let it blare the very poor quality muzak and the super annoying bullshit while I continue to play solitaire on my computer and wait to be connected to someone who can actually help. I swear, the announcements from these outfits are designed to be extra long and as aggravating as possible to encourage people to hang up. I mean, is it really necessary to tell people to call 911 if this is an emergency? (P.S. I wonder if there has been a spike in calls to 911 by people who just got fed up with this crap.)

At a Sitel Group call center in Metro Manila.Photographer: Xyza Cruz Bacani for Bloomberg Businessweek

Of course, customer service is an expense and companies are loath to spend any more money than absolutely necessary, so you get crap phones, crap computer systems, and crap training. I really feel for the people who work these jobs. I would hate to be a position where I had to do that kind of work. On the other hand, misery loves company, so if you are in with a decent bunch of folks it might be okay. Plus there might be coffee and donuts. Mmmm, donuts.

On the other hand we have an endless supply of high quality video entertainment, which is great, though we watch so much I might be getting burned out. Probably ought to take a couple of nights off each week to read. And when mail-order delivery is working, it's great, I don't have to run to the pharmacy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

1937 Monarch Stove

1937 Monarch wood burning and electric stove

I'm not quite sure I understand what I am seeing here. An electric stove that also burns wood? Why? Because electrical power was unreliable back in 1937? Or maybe the price of firewood was volatile, so when it was cheap you burned wood, but when the price jumped up because - who knows, the wood cutters union went on strike, or they got drunk, or whatever, you switched to electricity. Or maybe it was when you were in the money and you could pay the electric bill, you used electricity, but when you were out of work and the power company shut off your power, you could still cut your own wood and cook dinner. I dunno, it's just the strangest thing I have seen in a while.

50 years ago Jody & I stopped at the Tree Frog commune, or what was left of it, in northern New Mexico. A friend of mine from Ohio, one John R. Montgomery, black sheep of the Montgomery Lumber Company in Newark, used to live there. Mentioning his name to the couple living there got us a rustic cabin to sleep in. They had a wood burning stove in their cabin and the woman claimed she could boil water in ten minutes starting with a cold stove.

The man was making a living making silver jewelry. I remember seeing him at work one morning filing a silver button over the foam lid of an egg carton. (Were egg cartons even made of foam back then?) The lid was to catch the bits of silver that were being filed off of the button. Strangest thing I had ever seen, up till then. 

He had had a heart attack. He was probably only 30 years old but he looked like he weighed 300 pounds. The doctor put him on a 1200 Calorie-a-day diet. There was no running water, but there was an irrigation ditch maybe four feet across full of a flowing stream of ice cold water, if you wanted a bath. Mine was brief. Bear Mountain was nearby. We tried climbing it but when we got to around 10,000 feet I ran out of air.

While I am talking about old times, IAman asked the hostess an Banning's Pies yesterday for the non-smoking section which got a chuckle out her since smoking hasn't been allowed in restaurants in Oregon since 1999. I knew it happened a few years ago, but 20 years? Boy, time sure flies.

Via Posthip Scott and Ebay



Support Rod Mounting

California Bob reports:
[The in-laws] may be moving in, so we wanted to section off an area downstairs to give them some privacy.  First I was thinking "wall," then "partial wall maybe 6' high..."  Then I said "heck, no one's gonna be down there anyway, let's just curtain it off."

Made some big curtains out of Home Depot canvas tarps, and metal conduit for curtain rod. Got these little curtain rod rings with alligator clips that you just clip to the hem of the canvas. Dirt cheap and has a decent muslin look to it. 

I was actually at Restoration Hardware HQ a few weeks ago, and their lobbies are full of stuff that looks like this -- though priced in the the thousands. I'll pass my curtains off as Belgian linen.
I wonder if this is how Hong Kong got started. 'Yeah, we've got some extra room, you can stay will us' and then it just kept going. We've got a couple of the kids staying with us, but 99% of the time I am not even aware they are here.

My daughter wanted to curtain off part of the big downstairs room for her wedding reception. I never understood that. Did she think people were going to steal some books? Or sit in the chairs? Yeah, there's some things about being social that I just don't understand.

'Mericans Sure Do Like their Electricity

This battery business is getting out of control.

Green Car Reports

Wallbox Quasar 2

"At the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Wallbox Industries will unveil its second-generation bidirectional home charging station for the North American market."

Like its predecessor, the Wallbox Quasar 2 can draw power from an EV's battery pack, allowing the car to serve as an emergency backup power source for homes. Bidirectional charging effectively turns electric cars into energy-storage units, giving homeowners more flexibility in energy use, Wallbox said in a press release.

Chuck Egg reports:

EcoFlow RIVER Max Portable Power Station

I own an EcoFlow River Max "Portable Power Station" and a portable foldable solar panel (which is much more expensive now than when I bought it a couple years ago.  Supply line issue, perhaps?)

PAXCESS 120W 18V Portable Solar Panel

My mom has COPD and uses two oxygen generators.  Her smaller  transportable battery powered oxygen unit can be charged and powered by 110v or a 12v (cigarette lighter) outlet..  The Oxygen unit's detachable battery can run the O2 generator for up to about 4 hours.  When we inquired about a second battery we were told the price was about $400 because it is a "medical device".   So, instead, I bought the EcoFlow Battery because it was just a few dollars more, but had a lot more potential uses since it has 110v, 12v and USB outlets.

In fact, we've used the EcoFlow to extend battery power for a few extra hours on mom's O2 machine, but more often we've used the Ecoflow battery to power our internet router, computers, TV, and LED lights when the power has gone out for short periods.

In the summer, I connect the Ecoflow to a portable solar panel to charge the Ecoflow battery, then use the USB ports to charge, for free, our phones, tablets and laptops.

No, the cost for a high watt-hour battery backup may not make sense for the average household, but a lot of people use them for temporary power during outages and a lot more people use them with solar panels when they are camping.  I've loaned my Ecoflow out to friends a few times during power outages and they've used it to brew a pot of coffee, watch TV, and charge their cell phones.

The Ecoflow I use has a high wattage button that allows the battery to power a table saw, circular saw, or other power tools which may be more convenient than running an extension cord.

The Ecoflow unit we use has a capacity of 576 watt hours.  It's simple math to calculate how long the battery will power LED lighting (at several watts per hour, per bulb) or an internet router (2-3 watts per hour), etc.  The battery displays remaining power in both watt hours and minutes at the current load.

Power tool companies are making widgets that make 110VAC from power tool batteries. They don't deliver a lot of power and they don't last long, but there seems to be a market for them, charging phones, or job sites without 110 where you don't want to run a generator. 

We seldom get hit with power outages. I wonder if being just down the street from Intel's Ronler Acres multi-billion dollar computer chip factory has anything to do with that. I kind of suspect that they went to a lot of trouble and expense to make sure their money printing machine has a reliable supply of 'lectricity.

While some people are making a lot of noise about how electric cars are more efficient, save you money and are good for the environment, that's all it is, a lot of noise. What it's really all about is convenience. I have a smartphone. I don't like it very much but I carry it with me everywhere because it is very useful. I like my gasoline powered truck, but having to go out of my way to reach a gas station and then wait in line to buy gas is annoying and inconvenient. 

Me, I'll put up with all kinds of annoying bullshit if it means I don't have to spend any money, but now I'm thinking about spending $80 for a new printer so I don't have to walk upstairs to get my one page of printout or figure out how to connect my Linux box to the printer on my wife's Windows box. I mean I already spent an hour on this and got nowhere. Yes, I still use paper and pencil for some things.