We got a promotional flyer in the mail from yet another car dealership, which looked kind of like a free raffle for cool prizes. And right at the top it said that it was “Cars for the Cure to support the American Cancer Society.”
It’s a nice looking piece, tri-fold, card stock, four color printing. On the back is a plastic “combination box” and a peel-away sticker. The combination box looks like it has an LED readout, and a little tab you can pull to turn it on.
The idea here is that you turn on the combination box, then peel the sticker off of the flyer. There’s a number printed under the sticker, and if the combination box lights up with that same number, you have won one of the seven awesome prizes.
The first prize is his-and-hers 2014 Mustangs or $100, 000. The prizes go from there through a whack of cash, TVs, iPods and things like that. What’s important is third prize. Third prize is an Amazon coupon worth $2-5000. To be clear, third prize is a coupon, and that coupon can worth some amount between two dollars and five thousand dollars.
Here’s where the nerd kicks in. Do a bit of reading of the finer printing, and spend 30 seconds with a pen knife, and you find the following:
– In the contest rules (which are, refreshingly, quite clearly printed on the flyer), the odds of winning each prize are listed. It says “Odds of winning a $2 Amazon® Card are 1:1 should no other prize be won.” This means that ANYONE who gets one of these fliers will at least get a $2 gift card. It’s like a boxing match, in that everyone can win third prize.
– There are a few things you have to do online, including choose which prize you want to play for, before you win anything.
– Here’s what the combination box looks like if you take it apart.
That thing on my pinky is a sticker. If you light it from behind, it kind of looks like an LED segment display is making those numbers. But in reality, the combination box is just a single white LED, a piece of clear plastic to diffuse the light, two button batteries and a sticker. It’s supposed to LOOK like it’s picking a number that’s exclusive to you, but it’s not.
Guess what? The number in my combination box is the same as the number in my flyer! I am teh w1n! I do have the sneaking suspicion that a lot of people will have the same numbers, but hey–when you get right down to it, we are ALL winners. Makes you feel good, dunnit?
So what is going on here?
Basically, this car dealership is spending somewhere between $3 and $5 per piece to drop these flyers in an attempt to get people to come into their building and claim a prize. An additional $2 will go to everyone who goes through the hoops to claim their prize, but in order to do so, every winner is going to have to start a conversation with a salesperson. If this is as smart a campaign as it appears, those salespeople will have a script or some other way of getting the winners to look at cars.
So that’s about $7 (at most) per warm lead who walks in the door. Not too bad, if it works. I’d assume that they targeted who was getting these things a bit. Ours was addressed to the people who used to own our house “or current resident.”
See, you can’t just say to the world “I will give you $7 if you come to my dealership and let me try to sell you a car.” Most of the people who would say “yes” to that deal are NOT THE TARGET MARKET. If you need $7 that bad, you are not going to buy a car.
So instead, you choose a large group of people who are able to buy cars, and you spend $7 apiece to tell them “You live somewhere that people who can afford cars live, and you’ve won a prize, it might be a pair of awful cars or $100,000. Come talk to me about it. Also, it’s a benefit for the American Cancer Society.”
It’s not technically dishonest. You get as close as you can to saying one thing and meaning another, but mostly, you depend on people not reading to closely, and thinking that you’re giving things away.
This campaign is done through Fatwin, though this kind of thing is hardly unique. I’ve included their name here simply so that this might show up in search engines in case anyone else is as randomly curious as I was.
On the upside, I got an LED in a diffuser and two little batteries.
A friend on the social medias asked about the origin of the Penguin character. I’m not absolutely sure if this is completely correct, but the wonderful thing about comic characters now is that there are so many story streams and reboots, and delivered in so many forms, that accuracy kind of doesn’t matter.
Besides, no matter what you do, everyone will argue over it as if it mattered A LOT anyway.
The Penguin was originally Oswald Olsin, a child prodigy who had made billions in business, despite being born with the inability to smell toast, due to his parents’ both working on the Manhattan Project, though as we found out later, they were not his real parents, as his real parents lived on a super-advanced planet of super-science superhumans whose only weakness was that they could build really good rockets, but not very big ones.
When he was 18, Oswald was away training in the Marine Special Delta Force SEAL Astronaut Ninja Assassin Cyber-Ops Squirrel Suit Sniper Gourmet Corps (in a special Nuclear Black Ops unit of it that was kept secret from everyone except General Carborundum and somehow, a mole within the team). Oswald’s parents, wife, child, neighbors, sainted aunt, high school shop teacher, the kid who bagged his groceries, 4 missed connections on Craigslist and the kindly uncle who had taught him kung-fu, metallurgy, knife-throwing, hapkido, circus acrobatics and rope-swallowing had been killed by “The Pants”—the head of a secret underwear-smuggling cabal called “The Cabal.”
Oswald came home on sympathy leave for the funerals, an unthinkably difficult 8 weeks of dark suits, potato salad and tears. As each funeral passed, he noticed something strange: All the corpses were going commando. It was through his investigation of this that he uncovered evidence of “The Pants” and the Cabal. Oswald swore his revenge, and used his training to go AWOL, disappear and take on a new identity.
He created the new identity of Oswald Olson, a mild-mannered 98-pound billionaire reporter for the Gotham Grit, who appeared to have a severe hairlip and a pompadour. Secretly, he was also Trunksman, who fought crime wearing a mask and his underwear over his pants, and DIDN’T have a hairlip and a pompadour. By using his own greatest fear as the weapon to fight the thing he hated the most, Oswald became more powerful. Think of an arachnophobe who hates paying tax having spiders thrown at him by a tax-collector. THAT kind of powerful.
The Cabal—and The Pants in particular—was in contact with the world’s most sensitive areas, and would often work their way into places where it was difficult to get at them discretely, so Oswald’s fight took him all over the world, where he often had to depend on the enormous clandestine network of buddies and contacts he had developed during his military career.
Oswald was flying his prototype rocket motorcycle one evening when he was teleported aboard the spaceship of a dying intergalactic superhero named Mm’m Mmm’ Ghu’d, who told Oswald that he was the Chosen Human to become the Guardian of This Part of The Galaxay (including parts of Burnaby). Oswald was given a Galactic Earring, which granted him the ability to create almost anything out of energy, though the preferred method of using it was to make really detailed models of things like guns and giant Hot Wheels cars and really big fists. The earring had to be recharged every 8.5 hours, including a half-hour lunch, and was powerless against anything yellow. This meant Oswald was pretty much powerless during the day, because he lived on a planet with a yellow sun, so the earring mostly just sat in Oswald’s sock drawer. Sometimes he would take it out at night for party tricks, or if he needed to reach something up high and had remembered to charge it up, but it mostly just sat there, because cleaning your gutters at night kinda sucks. Who has time for that?
Oswald took part in The Marketing War, a giant battle in which every superhero fought side-by-side against something or other, sponsored by caffeine and sugar in water, and happened to be on a planet with a red sun. At the time, Earth was being targeted by Anaphlaxus, who roams the universe destroying planets he’s allergic to. Anaphlaxus had watched “The War Behind the Marketing War” (a reality show on Nat Geo) and was impressed with Oswald, who had taken advantage of a rare opportunity to use the mostly useless earring and distinguished himself in The Marketing Wars. Anaphlaxus agreed to spare Earth in return for Oswald’s pledge to become Anaphlaxus’ herald, gave Oswald incredible powers, a nigh-invulnerable shiny crimson skin, and a wobbly metal plank with a handle and needlessly small wheels. Thus, the Red Razor was born.
As the Red Razor, Oswald travelled to thousands of worlds, passing the time by reciting huge portions of the journal he kept during his second year at community college, where he couldn’t decide whether to major in philosophy or English, so he took both but didn’t really finish the textbook and mostly just smoked weed. It was inevitable that that almost limitless power and the ability to meet pretty much all the sentient beings in the universe, while never being afraid of anything, aging or dying would become just too much of a burden to bear, so one day The Red Razor turned on Anaphlaxus and tried to fight him in order to save one of these hundreds of thousands of worlds that had bored Oswald so much. Gosh, people sure are funny that way, eh?
Oswald learned a valuable lesson about picking a fight with the infinitely powerful guy who gave you your scooter, and found himself exiled back to Earth, about 20 minutes before the beginning of The Marketing War, which was this time known as The Marketing WarS, and went pretty much the same way as the previous Marketing War, except on thicker paper, and for some reason, everybody said a lot more and it was harder to follow who was saying what.
After the Marketing Wars, Oswald tried having a girlfriend who didn’t know his secret identity, then a sidekick who didn’t know his real identity, then a girlfriend who was an enemy of his secret identity, then a girlfriend who was a sidekick, then a boyfriend who knew his secret identity, then an intelligence-enhanced robot monkey who had a secret identity, and then marketing decided he should be a penguin.
A few months ago, I noticed that the Accutronics 1BB2A1B reverb on my mighty Carlsbro Fat Boy suddenly started to sound terrible. I just replaced it yesterday.
Yeah, you read that correctly. I noticed this a few months ago, and only did something about it in the last 24 hours. If this gear belonged to anyone else I know, I would have been all over them to fix it. In fact, I probably would have dragged it home and fixed it. But this is MY gear, so I’ve been playing trucker music for months with no reverb. Yay me!
While this is a simple repair, there is very little information out there about how to actually get the parts you need and do it. I’m filling this post with search engine bait, so if you found it, that worked.
The big fail
The failure itself was pretty simple: One of the wires that holds the spring mounts broke off, and it did so inside a mounting piece that is soldered in place. A better person that I could probably fix this, but it is extremely fine and fiddly work, and I am pretty constantly reminded that I am not a better person than I.
The bigger problem
The main problem is that the stock reverb tank in the Carlsbro Fat Boy is a 1BB2A1B. That becomes a pain in the butt for the handy lazy person, because searching for 1BB2A1B and your amp name or “replacement” gives you pretty much no useful results on the major search engines. Neither does “reverb spring repair” by the way. Lots of links for people who will replace your ‘verb for money, but you probably don’t need that.
Hopefully, your search now leads you here.
Reverb codes, briefly
Spring reverbs are a rare kind of product, in that there is a standard numbering system for identifying pretty much everything about them, and everyone in the industry uses it.
Apparently, that kind of standardisation is easy to do with physical objects made in different parts of the world over decades, but pretty much IMPOSSIBLE to do in software. But I digress…
You can find a key for the reverb numbering system all over the place. Here’s one with information about Accutronics reverbs at the top, and the numbering system at the bottom. Seeing as most of the reverbs that come stock in amps are Accutronics, that’s a good place to start.
The chart tells you this about my 1BB2A1B tank:
1 – It’s Type 1, which means it has two springs and is short (9″)
B – Input impedance is 150 ohms*
B – Output impedance is 2250 ohms*
2 – Medium decay time (1.75 to 3.0 secs)
A – Input and output are both grounded*
1 – No lock
B – Mounts horizontally, with the open side down
I liked how it sounded, but truth to tell, it’s a pretty cheap-ass tank. Short, two-spring verbs can be kinda theeen. Doesn’t matter though, because pretty much no-one makes this exact tank any more. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any Type 1 tanks from anyone.
My tank was an Accutronics, so I went to the Accutronics site. I couldn’t find any info there about a 1BB2A1B, and I knew that some of the specs of my old tank needed to be matched on whatever new one I bought. I was most concerned about the input and output impedance and grounding, which is why I marked them with an “*.”
I ended up calling one of their distributors, CE Distribution. CE is a distribution company, but they run a few places that sell to end-users. They have the same support for all of them, including Antique Electronic Supply. I talked to Sam on the phone, and he’s awesome.
A steady guide in some celestial voice
I’m not going to get into the What Kinda Reverb You Want and Why discussion here. This post is already way too long to start talking subjectives.
The important things when choosing a replacement:
The input and output impedance must either match your old tank exactly, or you must nerd out and learn what happens when they don’t
(hint: avoid having to do that)
Same goes for the grounding
Check the size of the tank versus the space you need to install it in. Remember that you have to plug the thing in, so if you don’t have AT LEAST 1.5″ clear in front of the plugs when the tank is installed, you’ll have to plug it in BEFORE you mount it
(hint: avoid having to do that)
For something that can be a big part of your sound, reverb tanks are pretty cheap
I couldn’t find anything by Accutronics that would drop right in, so I got a MOD 4BB2A1B to replace my 1BB2A1B. Pretty much the same tank as the 1BB2A1B, but 17″ long, which is accomplished by doubling the springs lengthwise. All the electronic specs line up, which is the important part if you want to be simple about things.
Installing a horizontal spring reverb tank
There never seem to be instructions for this anywhere, and most searches for it just point to to reverb tank reviews that say useful things like “installation was easy!” or “installation is easy!” Search is horrible now.
On the Fat Boy, and most amps with the ‘verb installed flat across the bottom of the amp with the open side down, installation is really easy! LAWL. It’s nice to have instructions though. You should read all the way through them first.
Open up your amp
(hint: I dunno, look it up if you need to!)
Look at the input and output jacks to the reverb. Note what colour each is. Write it down. I SAID WRITE IT DOWN!
Undo the input jack
Seriously! There is NO colour-code standard for input and output. LAST CHANCE TO WRITE IT DOWN
Undo the output jack
Remove the screws holding the tank in place, and keep them
Remove the tank
NOTE! If you are inside a combo amp, your reverb tank is under a big ol’ magnet. That magnet is going to grab the tank. This is annoying. You can’t stop it.
NOTE! Remember when I mentioned the big ol’ magnet? Dude! It was like, three lines ago! That magnet’s going to want to grab the new tank too. If the tank is painted, the magnet will scratch the paint. It WILL. I highly recommend that you hook up the new tank outside the amp FIRST, make sure it works, and then install it. No-one wants to take back a scratched tank.
Connect the inputs and outputs.
SEE? TOLD YA TO WRITE IT DOWN! The magnet-wrasslin’ makes you forget
Test that the reverb works
(netdud only) Take out the piece of foam they put under the springs for shipping, stop swearing, and test again
Turn off the amp, disconnect the reverb
Make sure you have squishy grommets in the screwholes you are going to use, so the tank is physically isolated from the cabinet
Wrestle new tank into place, scratching it on the magnet at least once
Make sure you have room to plug in your input/output jacks
ATTN: People who make video softwareses!
I know you all read my posts, so I thought I would mention this here.I know it makes you feel cool to just use the names of Chip Jewelry for output settings, but some of us actually want to know what those settings mean.
Seeing as you require me to put in the resolution, framerate, aspect, etc. in order to IMPORT, you can assume that I will want to know what those numbers are for EXPORT.
If audio software worked like this, you’d have presets like:
I have mpenge disks on my turntable spindle
“Audiophile” who likes vinyl (ironic)
“Audiophile” who likes vinyl (old)
“Audiophile” who likes vinyl (clean-shaven)
“Audiophile” who likes vinyl (bearded)
“Audiophile” who likes vinyl (because pictures on the cover!)
Liquid metal cables and blue felt pen on the CD
Metal guy (80’s)
Metal guy (90’s)
Metal guy (00’s)
Compressed all to ratshit, like on the radio
Leave my shit alone and just render a .wav file (hidden deep in settings)
You know, I used to despise AOL, but now I don’t. Now I see them as the corporate auto-Robin-Hood that they truly have been.
Thanks to their unique combination of cash reserves, hubris and goofiness, AOL have managed to absorb the difference between the grotesque over-valuation of several pieces of tech (WinAmp, Netscape, etc.), and the actual value of those same assets. They bought those things for the stupid, Facebook-level IPO messiah price, screwed up and starved the productive side of things in a vain search for profitability commensurate with their unrealistic investment, and refused to let go.
The end result: The tech ends up functional, freed of its greedhead investors, with only those who truly care about what it does left and providing the (usually simple) functionality that made it worthwhile in the first place.
And they’ve done it the old-fashioned way–by taking HUGE losses!
Just opened up a brand-new Lenovo laptop running Win7 to set up for someone who just bought it. I do this kind of thing for people.
If you are planning to do this yourself, try this: When you buy the laptop, ask the person selling it if you can just go ahead and open it right there in the store and try it out.
Not the demo on the shelf, the new computer you just bought.
This should be no problem. Batteries aren’t the temperamental pains they used to be—you can, in most cases, just take the thing out of the box, plug it in, and start it up. Most stores have wi-fi all over the place. You should be able to fire up your new machine, get online, get to know it a bit, and start enjoying computing fun, You could even do your registration.
You’d think that would be pretty cool. You’d think that would actually help sell computers. But of course, that isn’t what happens at all
What happens, with Windows machines anyway, is that you will spend the first hour with your new laptop wading through the crap adware the manufacturer included, saying “No” to all the “Do you want to activate/buy this thing you’ve never heard of?” dialogs, downloading updates, having the machine do a bunch of stuff without knowing what it is, and wondering why the thing is so slow.
Hint: It will quite slow until it has been running and online for at least half an hour, and then restarted at least once.
Normally, you HAVE to do all this crap when you get home. At that point, you are excited about your machine, then surprised, then annoyed, then frustrated, but you’ve already bought the damn thing, so you just eat your lemons.
It seems odd that your first day or so with your spanky new computer is going to be the worst time you spend with it until it either gets bogged down with cruft or malware, or the fan dies.
If you spent your first few minutes on a new laptop in a store, there’s pretty much no way you would leave with the machine. And if you were watching someone else go through this, you probably wouldn’t want to buy the machine in the first place.
At this point, if you have owned a computer and paid any attention at all to it, you might be thinking “Yes. This is exactly what happens. That’s just how it is. SO?”
Well, after 30-odd years of consumer computing, it is just incredible that this is how it is.
HOORAH! Ubuntu is now a sure-nuff mainstream operating system! Here’s a transcript of a conversation I had with it just the other day. I couldn’t figure out why it felt so familiar, but then I realised that it’s the same conversation I’ve had with the more popular operating systems.
netdud: Hello Ubuntu computer I use for three things! I would like to do one of those things now.
Computer:This version of Ubuntu is no longer supported
netdud: Hey, good to know. Anyway, if we could just do the thing
Computer:You should totally upgrade.
netdud: Yeah. I don’t really use this machine for anything but those three things, and it doesn’t see the outside world, so it really doesn’t matter
Computer:We’ve got a whole bunch of stuff that’s new and doesn’t look anything like the version you’re using. You totally want that!
netdud: No. I don’t. Can I just do the thing…
Computer:We’ve cloud got cloud the cloud cloud services cloud TOTALLY cloud integrated cloud into cloud the operating system.
netdud: That sounds horrible.
Computer:We’ve got the awesome Unity interface, for people who can’t use computers, and don’t want to buy a tablet that does much.
netdud: Oh right! Took me a couple of hours to get that utter toss off this machine last time. No. Not interested
Computer:Your version isn’t safe.
Computer:Yeah–the version you’re using right now, if you keep using it, uh, all kinds of bad things are going to go unpatched.
Computer:I’m totally SRS! Also, cloud!
netdud: FINE. I just want to do my one thing!
Computer:OK! I’ll just sort out all the stuff you don’t need–
netdud: HEY! WHAT? No! Just leave stuff alone and change the OS crap you need
Computer:Uninstalling GNOME files, removing My SQL…
netdud: What the WHAT? GET OUTTA THERE!
Computer:Download complete. Installing the upgrades. About 6 hours remaining.
Computer: About three hours remaining
netdud: OK. That’s better. I guess. For an OS I need to do THREE THINGS
Computer:About five hours remaining.
netdud: Oh. We’re doing that, are we?
Computer:About three hours remaining.
Computer:Unable to delete the directory containing the thing that we are replacing with another thing that does the same thing but has a new name you won’t remember. So I’m just going to leave that directory full of old junk for you. I’m sure you’ll enjoy nothing more than reading all the log files for this six hour install, so of course you will find all the directories I left like this.
netdud: Yeah. I love doing stuff like that. You’ve got my number there.
Computer:Moving obsolete conf file [XXX] out of the way.
netdud: Did you REALLY just say that?
Computer:Moving obsolete conf file [XXy] out of the way.
netdud: What the hell does that even MEAN? Did you go to “Bad command or file name” University or something?
Computer:Moving obsolete conf file [XyX] out of the way.
Computer:I’m going to fill the screen with those. You can read all about it later in the log file I guess.
netdud: Sorry–missed that. Just decided it was a good time to get a drink
Computer:About 1 hour and 27 minutes remaining.
netdud: I just wanted to..
Computer:Now I’m replacing a whole shit-ton of packages like GREP and Chrome and fonts that you already had, but I just stopped updating them because you didn’t upgrade the entire OS.
netdud: Yeah. Woulda sucked to just get those a bit at a time, in the background. On a machine that runs 24/7.
Computer:About three hours remaining.
netdud: It’s like I don’t even know you any more, dude.
Computer:I’m installing the Wifis and Bluetooth support. Yes, I DO still have the list of hardware currently on the machine, but I didn’t look at it. Just installing stuff. That’s what I do.
netdud: This box doesn’t even have… Nevermind
Computer:Also replacing the eleventy-billion printer drivers we installed with the last upgrade with eleventy billion printer drivers which are not ALL the same as the last ones, just in case you suddenly want to use eleventy-billion printers right after this upgrade.
netdud: That’s awesome! Thanks! But the driver that worked perfectly with the one printer I actually use, that’ll still work fine, right? Because that’s one of the three things that I…
Computer:About one hour and twenty minutes remaining.
netdud: Why am I excited that this is suddenly going to take on a stupid amount of time, instead of a ridiculously stupid amount of time?
Computer:Moving on–remember that package you tried, and then found out that the project was discontinued, and that it didn’t work anyway? I just replaced it with the point release you didn’t bother upgrading to because it was discontinued.
netdud: Thank you for that. As I recall, that package wasn’t part of the distribution
Computer:Just one of the services we do on upgrade.
netdud: Oh, I can see your point–that’s just the sort of thing you SHOULD add to a 1.5 gig, four-hour automatic upgrade. I’d hate to go through all this and find out I’m a version behind on software you don’t support and doesn’t work. What would my friends say when I try to tell them how user-friendly Ubuntu is?
Computer:I’m replacing the LAME codec right now. The old one was working fine, but there’s a new one.
netdud: Why are you doing that?
Computer:Because I’m going alphabetically.
netdud: Good plan. And I mean, what are the chances that someone would have a problem with the awesome sound subsystem on Linux, and have to do some bodgy junk to get it running? You should TOTALLY screw around with the stuff and set it up in a nice generic way to use a sound card I don’t have installed, and move all my codecs somewhere exciting.
Computer:Updating your version of OpenOffice.
netdud: Really? Why? What does that have with the operating system?
Computer:We include it WITH the operating system!
netdud: Yeah, but that means I already HAVE it. Why are you including a new install of the fattest piece of bloatware on the entire system with an OS upgrade?
Computer:Same amount of time remaining as the last four times you looked, even though the list of things I am doing keeps changing.
netdud: I’m going to bed. Check on you in the morning.
Computer:I’m going to change some config files, and I need you to tell I can replace them. Or you can tell me to keep the old ones. I’m not going to tell you if the old ones might have a different effect after the upgrade.
netdud: Hang on–let me see the two files
Computer:I can let you compare the two by dropping them in a big long vertical window with codes in front to show what each file says.
netdud: Can I see them side-by-side?
Computer:Don’t be ridiculous! What good would that do?
netdud: Uh, let’s keep the old ones
Computer:I will accept that with an off-putting ease, making you wonder why I didn’t just keep the old one as a matter of course. But you will pay, stupid. You will pay.
netdud: I’m really sleepy. I’m going to bed
Computer:Hang on–I want to show you how I am testing for the right audio drivers by saying that things are failing, and then test a bunch of drivers that have brand names not even remotely related to this machine.
netdud: Wait–I’ve never even owned a Dell laptop!
Computer:I don’t blame you–that driver is teh fail!
netdud: Cool, thought you were losing your mind.
Computer:I’ve installed the HP Crudsucker 760 driver, it’s totes wikkid!
netdud: That’s a laptop! This machine is an old desktop!
Computer:So that should have the sound squared away. I’m just going to tell you there are 24 minutes remaining for the next 24 minutes.
netdud: All the hope in me has died. I feel strangely free.
Computer:I’m going to leave a sentence that ends with the word “completed” on the screen, and but the fans are all going to come on like mad and the drive light is going to stay lit for the next three minutes straight. Everything’s fine though.
netdud: So sleepy
Computer:Hey–you want this old config file? Looks like the only difference between it and the new one is that the old one is set up to run headless.
netdud: Yeah–this machine only runs headless.
Computer:Y’don’t say. Wow. If I knew that before I started, there’d be no need to keep stopping and waiting for you to compare conf files and click yes.
netdud: Gosh, that would really be something.
Computer:Hey! Why don’t you go to bed and I’ll just sit here with this dialogue box waiting for your input and the drive light and all the fans going full blast.
netdud: No, I’ll sit up here with you. I’ve suddenly got a bunch of reading to do about unpopular Linux distros..