Future Shock

I tend to shout curses at the universe a lot these days. Usually it’s because some piece of overrated technology demands that I enter some “data” about myself for “security” when I know damn well they’re just rooting around for some information to sell, and that process of giving them the data fouls up what I was originally trying to do.

Like fill a prescription. For life saving medication. That I can’t do (easily) because I don’t have a smart phone.

It’s not just old man paranoia-insanity.

Not entirely.

So let’s talk about technology.

This here is a cool article from a guy I like, although I’ve never met him. But that doesn’t mean that he won’t lead me out into traffic. I bought this super-cheap controller thing based on his article on making a “Decent Cheap Throttle.”

As you can see, it matches the one shown on Mr. Smith’s page. It also features technology that is out there several parsecs into the realm of deep space and not part of my lexicon.

If I had read the article CAREFULLY I would have seen this:

What is the frequency of the PWM? I don’t know. I can report that it doesn’t create any audible noise in loco motors that I’ve been able to detect.”

and I would have wondered about it, and then I would have looked up PWM and found out that this thing does not control DC voltage the old fashioned way, with resistance, but uses something akin to the way that LED screens control brightness. In other words, it uses frequency to lower the net effect. This causes migraines in some people when associated with a computer screen, and it also caused my old, old locomotives to squeal loudly when first subjected to this alien probing.

I just put the PWM voltage control off the side. Now I’m triple happy I bought this:

because I now have a “throttle” and I can just ignore all other options if I want to.

And I want to.

Here’s another thing that pisses me off (from among a veritable galaxy of choices).

Firstly, I don’t do nuthin’ that nobody TELLS me I gotta do. Let’s get that straight RIGHT now. I don’t appreciate being TOLD that I CAN’T put my videos on my site, and I should ALWAYS use Youtube. The hell with that.

And I don’t like being TOLD that the “Ze locomotive trucks ARE NOT INTERCHANGABLE Amerikaner dumpkopf!”

We’ll see about that. After I learned (the hard way) how that old German toy train was put together, I just jigged it around a little and sure enough, it ran backwards. Cool. The only problem was that I neglected to notice that the rear truck had something called “traction wheels” so when I put the front in rear and and rear on the front, I had to take the trucks apart AGAIN to swap the rubber tire wheels around.

Anyway, I now have two trains going in opposite directions at ABOUT THE SAME SPEED.

This is the issue. The speed. The speedy Little Growly runs too damn fast to be paired up with a slower Minitrix loco. It can be done (as I have done) but Little Growly is always moving a bit too fast, and too loud.

This brings up the issue of “generations” in the n-scale model train family. Old, old locos (like mine) tend to run “too fast” and they live in the bottom half of the throttle. Turn it all the way up and they fly off the track, hit your pet in the head and end your life as you know it.

Locos from The Eighties ™ run more in the middle of the throttle– but too slow to be paired up with one of my Minitrix antiques. The Minitrixen will be screaming around the track while the Bachmann from 1985 just sits there, waiting for a robe.

Then we have the “modern” locos who live in the rarefied air at the top of the throttle range. They purr along at a scale two miles an hour until you break your arm turning the power up, then they poop along at a stately pace. Full power is where these guys live.

Do you see where I’m going here? It’s all the about expectations. A “modern” young chap expects a “good” loco to be getting out of bed at about the same throttle setting where Little Growly is gradually slipping into trans-dimensional space after exceeding the speed of light. It’s these kinds of gradual changes that attempt to force us to upgrade. Computers set the tone here. You NEED a new computer because the old one isn’t compatible with any new hardware. You NEED new a new loco and new track because the old stuff just won’t work with the new. Not easily, anyway. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s just the “pressure” that comes from “progress”–and now that we are on the verge of the Technological Singularity, I’m expecting the newest toy trains to come with tiny cameras to record your every move, and programmed to complain if they arrive late at the station.

But let’s not forget (repeat after me)–



Well look, I already told you! I deal with the customers so the engineers don't have to! I have people skills! I am good at dealing with people! Can't you understand that? What is wrong with you people?

  • Yup. I have same issues with Photoshop. I can’t open Raw files from my camera cause of updates, changes. I’m not paying Lord Adobe monthly tribute to the Cloud harpies.

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