finding peace in repair

Some time ago, in addition to being the trivia king of Fujitsu Primergy servers, I was also a master at finding used Macs for cheap on eBay. Nobody wants a Core 2 era Mac anymore, so naturally I bought a 2007 iMac 7,1 for 100EUR.

Now I have 8 Macs that I never use.

It was 100EUR because it would turn off randomly (power supply problem). Other than that it was perfect.

Life is so fast paced, nobody has time to repair broken things. I called a Mac repair store, even they didn’t have the time to repair it – too expensive to troubleshoot and take apart, they say, better to just buy another power supply. But they did leave me with a good tip – capacitors are the only thing that age and break down in a power supply.

It took me a year to finally get around to calling that repair store. I was constantly chasing the next nugget of knowledge, the next new hobby, the next acquisition. I have 14 jackets by the way, I just counted. I wanted to experience this, experience that.

When I bought that iMac, I was also chasing the next experience. But deep down, I was just chasing what I really enjoyed about computers when I was young – immersing myself in a project with no expectations whatsoever.

Pay attention to your self-talk (this goes for everything). “I’ve got to get it fixed by x date”, or “I’ve got to do this as quickly and efficiently as possible” sucks the fun out of it. Or “just gotta finish it quickly so I can move on to the next project” just misses the whole point of taking on such projects in the first place.

When I was ‘busy’ and ‘had to get all this done’, I didn’t get that much done and I was stressed and somewhat guilty at the end of the day.

When I told myself ‘you don’t have to do anything’, paradoxically I got so much done – because by not putting pressure on myself, I was able to reach flow.

And so it happens that after putting this off for a year, I suddenly have the time and energy to use an ESR meter on every capacitor in the power supply. Here’s the data, just to show the condition of the capacitors after 15 years:

C210 0.05O
C209 0.01O
C205 0.09O
C206 0.08O
C207 0.04O
C214 0.17O
C215 0.04O
C051 0.26O
C052 0.25O
C30? 0.19O 22uF 50V (obscured by goop)
C??? 0.70O 10uF 50V
C343 0.75O 10uF 50V
C204 0.03O
C406 47.0O! 10uF 100V 11mm -> replace with 10uF 160V 12.5mm tall Panasonic
C407 0.69O (out of circuit) 0.97O 22uF 50V
C213 0.06O
C212 0.07O
C211 0.10O
C004 0.26O
C057 0.20O
a 22uF capacitor can be considered ‘good’ until it hits an ESR of 1.8 Ohm

C406 and C407 were two small capacitors that lived under a large heatsink. C406 was totally gone, even though it wasn’t bulging. C407 had a in-circuit ESR of 0.97 Ohm. Compare this to C30?, which has the same capacitance, but is far away from the heatsink so it’s healthier at 0.19 Ohm. Although C407 is still “good”, it clearly has aged more.

C406: no capacitor should have an ESR that high

Buying the ESR meter, desoldering pump, desoldering the TO220 component and the heatsink to get to the capacitors, finding an electronic parts shop willing to sell me only 1 of each capacitor… imagine if I had approached all of this with the mindset of “I need to get this done”.

I can’t wait for the capacitors to arrive.

How to talk with a girl you really like, Part 2

Since I wrote the last post my understanding has changed. My last post was close to, but not quite, hitting the mark.

The turning point was when I read Emily Ratajkowski’s “My Body”. In case you don’t know who she is, she’s a Victoria’s Secret model. I don’t consider her to be particularly mature yet, and there is a lot of anger in her book, which I correctly surmised came from her living in America (there, people are always outraged/offended about something). But after reading it, it became as clear as day:

Beauty is a front.

Imagine you’re a happy little girl. Life is good, you’re not thinking about sex or boys or anything.

the pressures of sexuality turn one from this…

Suddenly, at school, beauty starts to become important. In fact, people start to treat you worse and treat others better – and it seems that it’s all predicated on being hot.

(this happens for guys too, except that it’s about being cool. not that the girls notice that they’re doing the same thing – they can only see the guys who are cool)

Everybody is now rated on beauty, and it’s the one dimension you’re ushered into. You can’t escape. Even into your twenties and beyond until you’re a grandma, everyone keeps harping about how hot you are or how hot someone else is.

… into this.

Understandably some rebel, “why is it all about looks”, they say. Some opt out entirely, becoming the girl that no one notices, even if genetically they have what it takes to compete. Of course looks are important. But overemphasis on looks can create a subconscious rejection that, if one is not aware of their subconscious, can last a lifetime and stunt one’s potential.

This is for the girl who didn’t win the beauty contest. What if you won? You might end up angry and… I don’t know what’s the word for it but I’ll go with superficial for now… like Emily Ratajkowski.

Guys can’t escape the coolness ladder in high school/university – but in real life, it is skills, success, intelligence that you are judged on. Success can be interpreted in many different ways, and is entirely under your control (unlike beauty, which is up to your parents), so there is more freedom in that dimension.

Now you know a beautiful girl is just another girl, just with her own set of problems. But let’s not stop there.

Luxury is a front.

Fashion is actually not glamorous at all, as Rosen’s Gracia Ventus (love her white Volta M65) writes.

Luxury brands aren’t actually rich and prestigious – once you subtract marketing costs, their profitability is only average, according to Jean Noel Kapferer’s New Strategic Brand Management.

A lot of work goes into making a front. On the small scale, you see girls trying to find the perfect angle in the selfie. On the larger scale, observe the efforts expended to convince you that a perfume you made is worth more than 20 Euros, because it’s prestigious/you’re going to be sexier/exclusive/you deserve to pamper yourself every once in a while with only the best. No, it’s worth 200! The price tags are the real achievement, not the product itself.

But we can take it a step further.

Your perception is a front.

I remember once when talking to a girl I liked, she said “but you don’t really know me, you just like your perception of me”.

I replied: “but that’s exactly why I’m here – I’m curious and want to know more about you.” Back then her objection felt silly and easily resolved with common sense – today it feels more understandable.

Anyway, women put up the front to attract – but they don’t want men who are bedazzled by the front! In a way, it is an intelligence/character filter.

(this is a human thing, not a man/woman thing – if you spent energy to put up a front to attract attention, you’d also hope that people would be interested in the person behind the front)

Master the front to not be blinded by it

Everything in my previous post simply comes naturally from this realization and applies to all other areas of life, which is why this is the true answer.

How to talk with a girl you really like

I spent YEARS overcoming this, but you know how it is when you learn something – it becomes part of you, and you start to think “of course it’s like this!” You forget all that hard work and mindset shifting you did.

Before this becomes common sense to me, I’d better write it down so that others won’t have to ruin their lives any further.

I was always afraid of talking to the girls whom I found really beautiful. Cute enough? yes, I could behave myself. But stunningly cute or hot?

we’re talking this level of hotness here

In middle/high school I wouldn’t even admit to myself that I wanted to look at them. In university, there was one girl I liked a lot, called Anne. I immediately started flirting with a girl sitting next to me that I wasn’t interested in the least. Everyone thought I liked her instead and started teasing me, that’s how good I was at fooling myself.

One day, after I was talking with another Chinese girl (I’m usually not interested in Chinese girls, especially this one), a friend asked me if I liked her. I said no, why? He said “because that’s how you talk when you’re flirting with someone”. And he was right. I knew that already, but somehow she was the only girl I could talk like that with (and somehow we both knew that I wasn’t really interested anyway).

How could I unfuck myself?!

In fact, first I would have to learn how to talk to strangers; how to talk to women I wasn’t attracted to; how to ask women out; how to ask women that I was attracted to out; and then I could start talking to women I was VERY attracted to. Oh, and asking them out too.

Dude, you say: what about “actually getting with the girl I was really attracted to”?
Well, no. Firstly, whether such a girl is available or likes me is out of my control. Secondly, such girls are rare, and it’s rare enough that a normal girl likes me anyway! Thirdly: I really don’t need another reason to be needy.

It was easy to live with my defect in the clubs. The hot girls were so popular that you couldn’t get a word in anyway. I looked instead at the demure girl in the corner who actually would’ve been the belle du jour if she had taken the effort to dress up more. At the bus stop – I forced myself to talk to them, and resented them because they could just brush me away like a fly – apparently men all “have the freedom to go for what they want”, and what they want is sex, so they have to be on guard.

Well, not always. If someone just started talking to you somewhere, wouldn’t you be a bit wary until you knew what the deal was? I got into the habit of telling them that they were attractive right from the very beginning.

Always ask yourself: why? all the way down
Let’s try one situation.
Why am I not going to acknowledge/look at that girl who’s so cute?
Because I’ve gotten rejected/ignored enough from girls like that in the past, now’s my time to reject/ignore them.
Because my ego wants to feel good.
OK, I admit it, my ego is stupid. I’ll just say hi, at least.

Let’s try another situation.
Why am I not going to talk to that girl who’s so cute?
Because I have absolutely no idea what to say!
Because “hi” can’t be good enough!
Because I’m sure so many other guys have approached her already!
And you’re not better than them?
There are 4 possibilities, and here are 2 of them:
a. You don’t feel like you’re good enough, and you’re actually not good enough.
b. You don’t feel like you’re good enough, but you’re actually good enough (this is the hardest part. Soldier on, find success to build up your confidence)

When I started dancing, it was the same story all over again, even though now I actually had something to offer (a dance) instead of an awkward conversation leading nowhere. Still, I was afraid to ask the “good” girls out to dance, and anyway everybody wanted to dance with them so they were hard to get hold of. I also had my hands full figuring out what a “good dance” was.

Relationships (even short term ones) start because you have something of value to offer each other.

At the same time, you have no idea what people could want. She could want someone to call her a whore and slap her in the face. no really.

After some time I noticed that women have the same issue… they sometimes get afraid of dancing with this particular guy. They’re nervous they won’t be able to dance as well as they normally could. Or something.

Then one day, that started happening to me. The beginners would be hesitant and shy. Sometimes, when making a mistake with women whom I thought were better at dancing than me, they’d quickly apologize, make an excuse. Ah, they were a bit tired after work, were hungry, hadn’t danced for a while, whatever. They knew how to dance, so why were they making excuses for little mistakes that always happen anyway?

Sometimes, at dance parties where people know each other socially, women who knew me always wanted to dance with me so I could never get off the dance floor. Wait a minute, this situation sounds familiar – aren’t those hot women always hard to get ahold of because they’re always being asked to dance?

But nothing about me had actually changed! It was just their perception. I had just been improving myself linearly.


I’m cool? I dance really well? …some people actually consider me cute? is it just because I’m 30-something these days?

Imagine, a girl probably goes through all this when she hits puberty. Just because she suddenly grew some breasts or maybe a butt, guys look at her differently and want to ask her out. It’s not like she became a better person. Maybe that’s why women aren’t completely bowled over by good looks like most men are. They know firsthand that it’s all a matter of perception.

Be conscious of why you think she’s perfect. See through that perfection to the imperfection. Every face has a “bad” angle.

guess who this is. Looks cute but eh, right?

Become the person you fear
If you’re afraid of talking to fit, well dressed women who always seem like they’ve got better things to do than talk to you – be a fit, well dressed man who is so busy when he goes out of his way to talk to a woman, it’s because he thought “ugh, I really should focus on this other thing but hey she’s cute, let’s give this one a chance”.

“Well-dressed” from whose point of view? Yours. After all, her being well dressed is also your perception.

Once you become the person others fear talking to, you realize there’s nothing special about anyone.

Today I have more female friends than male friends from dancing. For the most part, they don’t understand this struggle, nor do they really care. Tell your girlfriend about how difficult it is to ask out women whose beauty scares you, and most likely they will make it about their egos “so you find other women more beautiful than me?”

For them, getting the attractive partner is not the problem. Keeping the attractive partner is the problem.

Get used talking to, and making friends with attractive girls, keeping in mind that one attractive girl is another man’s “10”

A male friend once told me that one of my female dance friends was so beautiful that he didn’t dare say much when she was around. I thought for a while. Yes, she was very feminine for a German woman, and was cute too. But I don’t think of her as a 10 (let’s think of scary girls as a 10), more like a solid 8. Remember, you’re already friends with 10s. They’re just not 10s to you. Neither are the 10s you’re afraid of really 10s.

Her name is Brooke Shields. Hopefully you’re not scared of her anymore.

If you still wanna read about this stuff instead of actually going out and taking action, here’s what the Good Looking Loser has to say on the topic.

LTFS Guide: speed and tape longevity

In the previous part, I learned how to write data to LTO4 tape, got frustrated and splurged on an LTO5 drive to take advantage of LTFS. The drive came – and it works! It even came with a free HP H222 SAS adapter and 2 new LTO5 tapes.

Yup, screams “serious business”.

Why LTFS is useful

  • No more writing down which file was in which block on paper.
  • No more waiting until one file is finished writing to start dd-ing the next file. I can copy bunches of files at once
  • Folders! just like a USB or DVD.
  • Windows has no software to read Linux tarballs, and Linux has no software to read backups made by Windows backup programs, but both can read/write LTFS.

Sounds like basic stuff but before LTFS, the only way you wrote to tape was through proprietary software you had to pay a lot for or use Linux’s tar+dd.

Continue reading LTFS Guide: speed and tape longevity

Some Musings about Creating Your Own Currency – Interview with Chris Robison, Part 2

In a Discord chat I had with Chris, I try to figure out how to use meTokens, and what are the value dynamics around a personal token. I find that to get the most out of this token, nothing beats having a solid reputation and personal brand. In other words – it is one of many possible funding systems.

(I actually use a different chat handle IRL)

[10:57 PM] chiwbaka: I just added collateral to the tune of 0.1 ETH to my token, but it says the Total Supply is 1000 - same as before. Is this supposed to happen?
[11:00 PM] CBobRobison | meTokens: Yes. If you add collateral, you're only increasing the amount of ETH backing the already existing meTokens. If you want to increase the supply, then you'll need to buy/mint new meTokens
[11:25 PM] chiwbaka: I thought my collateral was supposed to be my time/services? @CBobRobison | meTokens

Continue reading Some Musings about Creating Your Own Currency – Interview with Chris Robison, Part 2

LTO tape backup tutorial

When I was young, I downloaded a lot, and burned a lot of CDRs and DVD-Rs. Nothing would ever fit onto them, so I’d have to split movies up, or put some episodes of an anime series here and another there, and that disc had a few megabytes free, so there went a few more episodes… this was a major pain in the ass.

I have also since amassed a 600GB music+photos collection, which I’d hate to lose to silent data corruption, drive failure, ransomware, theft or whatever. No matter how many layers Bluray had, it just wasn’t enough – imagine figuring out how to split all this between 12 BD-R DLs.

The answer: a Quantum LTO4 drive (~200EUR). It’s much longer than a Bluray drive, much noisier, much hotter, and even requires an additional SAS HBA (so all in all, very exotic and sexy). Each tape is 800GB and costs 10-20EURs, and unlike DVD-Rs going bad, tape is much more reliable (all digital movie footage, especially digitized film, is stored on tape these days).

Continue reading LTO tape backup tutorial

Why You Should Create Your Own Currency, according to meTokens creator Chris Robison

* 1. Introduction
* 2. Personal currencies – plausible?
* 3. Examples
* 3.1. Dance Teacher
* 3.2. Photographer
* 3.3. Software developer
* 3.4. Models
* 3.5. Doctors
* 3.6. Journalists/historians
* 3.7. Film directors
* 4. Final Thoughts

1. Introduction

In this pilot installment of Chiwbaka’s Chainterviews, Chris Robison, the founder of meTokens, discusses a truly out-there concept – making your own personal currency. He also gives several examples of how dancers, teachers, musicians, film directors and artists of all kinds can benefit from this strange new invention.

Fittingly he now has his own token, $CBOB! Each CBOB is worth 0.0038EUR as of the time of publication. I wonder what this means…

Continue reading Why You Should Create Your Own Currency, according to meTokens creator Chris Robison

The New Economy of Trust Networks – an overview


Think of your friends and how you have tit for tat with one another. There is an unspoken agreement to keep track of such favours implicitly, and if you have a friend who really keeps track of every cent he spent when doing favours for another, you’d all think he was a miser and keep your distance in some fashion.

Meanwhile, to exchange favours with the rest of the world, you use an abstraction of value called money. Over there, business is strictly business.

Now imagine if the tit for tat network could be expanded to not just include your close friends, but people who know about and presumably like you. Like your fans, or merely acquaintances who think you’re cool because they don’t yet know you eat boogers in the bathroom. Tit for tats could also be exchanged through a mutual acquaintance, enabling the exchange of favours with a total stranger.

Of course you’d need to keep track of all this explicitly, with currencies.

Could such a network reduce the importance of money in our lives/make transactions more personal, and abolish the desperate need to get rich at all costs?

the projects I know of in this space

Roll lets you create ERC20 personal tokens.

MeTokens seems to be the same thing, but adds a bonding curve, making your tokens more expensive as demand for them increases.

Trustlines an IOU exchanging network just like Lightning (Bitcoin), but mostly for fiat currencies and the integrated “Beer” currency.

Circles UBI an IOU exchanging network, except that these are personal tokens, which are replenished daily (it is a UBI).


Although this won’t replace money altogether, this form of explicit tit for tat could become a way of socially signaling you are closer together. Great way for famous people to make you pay more to feel more included, artists to rally their highest paying patrons etc.

Hippies will love this, and it’ll become even easier for them to live without money now. They might even think of this as money and start a movement to abolish this…

Value perception remains as important as ever. For your personal tokens to have value, you must make people see the value in you. This is not easy. And you must back up your tokens when called upon.

Recovering From COVID19

On the first week of March, I got the coronavirus. This is my experience at accelerating my recovery from it. The government was of no help, as usual.

It was just a cold

After going to Paris for EthCC, I got a cold. It was manageable at first, until the day I had to fly back to Berlin, because I thought hey, my flight is so early in the morning, might as well save money by sleeping over at the airport instead of a hostel!

Except that I didn’t even get to the airport in time to sleep, because I was having too much fun dancing zouk. In the end it was 4am, I couldn’t sleep on the bus because I was cold and afraid I might miss the stop at the airport, and when I had finally walked to the boarding gate, there wasn’t enough time to get proper sleep anyway.

There the cold really stopped being a sniffle and I had to blow my nose every now and then.

An aside about the Paris airport: incredibly, you will see homeless people sleeping in the airport. I don’t blame them, but when they piss on a wall indoors, when they could have just walked to a restroom, they really should be kicked out. I have no idea who said Paris was the city of romance.

Once I returned to Berlin, I slept with a hot water bottle. My cold improved immediately, and my mucus became green. So much for the cold.

But a day later, while walking back home, I felt the beginnings of a fever.

Continue reading Recovering From COVID19