Do Not Push The Button

Do Not Push
Do Not Push

Found this in a church restroom, which is pretty much a benign public environment.

If you put a pushbutton control at the usual place for a light switch and give it a light-switch affordance, then you shouldn’t be surprised when people push it.

Now, if the pushbutton happens to both turn off the light and disable the automatic light function, well, that’s hardly the user’s fault, is it?

Methinks it should be an automatic light switch with a manual override tucked inside a cover that doesn’t look at all like a pushbutton. Of course, the IR lens over the sensor would then require some up-armoring, as it’d look a lot like a button.

Cooper’s Hawk in Christmas Angel Mode

Coopers Hawk
Coopers Hawk

Heard two Cooper’s Hawks doing a call-and-response exchange a few mornings ago, with the nearest bird in a tall pine in the back yard. I’m surprised that a one-pound bird can perch on the very tippy-top branch of a pine without bending it over, but they seem to do this quite often.

The picture is a crop from the full frame, taken with a Sony DSC-H5 at full optical zoom with a VCL-HGD1758 1.7x Tele Conversion Lens. There’s plenty of violet fringing in evidence, which is one reason I try not to take high-contrast backlit shots like this.

Here’s a dot-for-dot crop of just the bird to show how bad the fringing really is.

Coopers Hawk Detail - Violet Fringing
Coopers Hawk Detail - Violet Fringing

It’s better than no picture at all, the way I see it…

Still More Alkaline Cell Corrosion

This is depressing …

Alkaline Cell Corrosion in Boom Box
Alkaline Cell Corrosion in Boom Box

We got a boom box so Mom could have background music; the Olde Family Tube Radio was far beyond its Best Used By date.

Prompted by recent events around here, I checked it on a recent visit and, yup, more corrosion. In all fairness, the cells suggest “Best If Installed By Jan 99”, so they’re well past their date, too.

This used to be a whole lot less of a problem when flashlights and radios (without clocks!) were the only things using “dry cells”: when the battery went dead, the thing didn’t work and you replaced the cells.

Nowadays, we expect alkaline cells to supply keep-alive trickle current for memory backup; even after the cell corrodes, it still supplies that tiny current and we never notice what’s happening inside.

I’m beginning to loathe alkaline cells just like I loathe the small internal combustion engines in yard equipment.

Not Quite Weatherproof Any More

Fatigue-fractured weatherproof switch boot
Fatigue-fractured weatherproof switch boot

Building equipment to withstand outdoor conditions is really, really difficult. Anything metallic corrodes, anything organic deteriorates, and anything flexible fractures.

The weatherproof boot on this outdoor sign switch has a tiny crack where the toggle enters the body. Not very big, but it’s the beginning of the end…

If the rest of the box had an air-tight seal, then things would get really ugly. Diurnal pumping can suck enough water vapor in through that little hole to eventually fill the entire box with water. Long before then, though, the electrical gadgetry will corrode.

Even though this sign seems to have plenty of openings around the lighted panels, the switch will eventually fail all by itself. Then they’ll likely throw the whole thing out; nobody fixes anything these days, right?

Here’s a detail view.

Switch boot - detail
Switch boot - detail

More Alkaline Cell Corrosion

Must be something going around…

Corroded clock-thermometer cell
Corroded clock-thermometer cell

The outdoor thermometer over my desk (which also displays UTC so I don’t have to reset the mumble clock twice a year) started blinking. That’s the usual sign of a dead battery and, yup, when I opened it up, that “leakproof” Eveready was pretty far gone.

Surprisingly, at least to me, the cell hovered around 1.1 V open-circuit and 800 mV under the meter’s “battery test” load. Given the amount of corrosion, I thought it would be flat dead.

The corrosion had crawled out of the compartment along the negative terminal and coated the entire metal tab with bluish-green crystals. Some protracted dabbing with vinegar, rinsing with wet cotton swabs, and drying put things pretty much back in order.

I usually scrawl the date on each cell when I install it, but either I didn’t do that here or the corrosion ate the ink. All I know is that it’s been up there for quite a few years; look at the discoloration where it faces the sun through the window!

The thing was a surplus freebie to begin with and has long since been fully depreciated…