Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Mackintosh Building S09

Robust security barriers have been put in place to seal off the area around the Mackintosh Building before dismantling work begins, and the south facade is demolished (before it falls down, as Glasgow City Council had issued a danger warning regarding sudden collapse of some parts.

A pair of distinctive wrought-iron finial roof decorations will be recovered during this work, to preserve them for the future. The floral orbs, crowned with a bird, were mounted one over the central roof of the main entrance , and the other over the east gable.

Last-minute discussions were held yesterday at a building control meeting between officials from Glasgow City Council and contractor Reigart, to finalise the methodology for the work.

A spokeswoman for the art school said: “The Glasgow School of Art’s expert structural engineers, David Narro Associates, and contractor, Reigart, have prepared the methodology for the work which needs to be undertaken on the Mackintosh Building.

“This has been shared with Glasgow City Council building control and Historic Environment Scotland.

“Over the weekend work to assess the condition of the Mackintosh Building continued with further drone footage collected. Meanwhile, preparation work for the managed dismantling of the elements of the building that have been deemed dangerous got under way, on schedule, today.

The spokeswoman added: “The main crane has been relocated to the corner of Sauchiehall Street and Dalhousie Street, and a second crane is expected to join it tomorrow.

“The work to begin dismantling the south façade will start as soon as possible following approval of the methodology by Glasgow City Council building control.

“The cordon for the whole site, which includes the O2 ABC and Jumpin’ Jaks, remains under the control of Glasgow City Council.”

Ms Aitken also said that requests for photo opportunities inside the charred building received from David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland, and an MP, had been turned down.

Cranes move in to dismantle fire ravaged Glasgow School of Art

Looks like I wouldn’t get pics even if I could make it in.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t be trying for that kind of pic – I’m more of a long-distance long lens type, and would be wandering around looking for chance glimpses from a distance.

Maybe later, maybe.

I just hate doing these posts without any pics at all, having used up all I had from the past.

03/07/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , | Leave a comment

USB PCB sockets are a bad design

While the idea behind the USB connector may have been fine (if we selectively forget the major error made when they didn’t make it a reversible connector from the very beginning), the same generous comment cannot be applied to the mechanical design of most PCB mounted USB sockets. I think I have had to repair (or sometime scrap stuff) because of mechanical failures of these simple components.

The fundamental problem, which I lie firmly on the door of the manufacturers, is simply a lack of strength in the fixing of the plastic inserts (carrying the contacts) inside the metal shell. While that metal shell is pretty robust, and has metal tabs that both locate it on the PCB and are soldered in to secure them, the same is not true of the plastic insert which the connections rely on.

This has two tiny, and weak, plastic features which locate it inside the metal shell, and locate it on the PCB.

The first is a pair of shallow holes which locate sprung tabs formed on the sides of the metal shell. While these appear to be secure, being sprung (just bent metal tabs), they can be overcome easily, either by deliberate force if dismantling intentionally, or unintentionally, by the much greater force applied if something hits the connector, or the device it is in happens to fall and land on it. I’ve seen this happen with a drop of only 10 cm.

The second is a pair of tiny locating ‘pins’, part of the plastic insert and extending from its underside, and which locate in a matching pair of holes in the PCB. These are barely a millimetre in diameter or height, so have little strength, and the aforementioned bump can break/shear them off in an instant.

Losing these mechanical ‘fixing’ means the insert with the contacts is held in place by nothing more than the four tiny solder connection of the USB socket – and they are so small and weak they offer no resistance, and shear off in sympathy with the two plastic ‘pins’.


I recently found ANOTHER failure mode for PCB mounted USB sockets.

An external hard disk with a USB connector had become increasingly intermittent over time, and then gave up altogether, failing to even appear as a drive when plugged in.

When I checked the USB lead, and plugged it in, shall we say ‘firmly’, all resistance disappeared, and when I looked at the socket, all I saw was an empty hole! The insert had fallen inside the case, and was rattling around the interior.

On opening the case, this was what I found – an empty metal USB PCB socket shell.

But, it was also obvious the four connector leads had not sheared, but simply separate as the soldering had failed – and this was why the drive had been failing intermittently for ages.

USB Problem

USB Problem

After retrieving the USB insert, it slid back into place and showed what had been happening with the (failing) solder connections.

USB Problem

USB Problem

For once, an easy and cheap repair – a drop of glue, and rerunning the solder on the PCB connections was all that was needed.

But WAIT! (There’s more).

Gloria’s crap caps

While I was in the guts of this external drive, I spotted a problem with some of the electrolytic capacitors.

It’s not as evident in the pic as was to the eye, but the black capacitors have failed, and are swelling and leaking. You can see some dried crust on the cap second from the right.

They had to come out and be replaced.

Glorias Caps

Glorias Caps

If you’re a tech of any sort, then it’s a fair bet you’re well acquainted with the worldwide capacitor scam that has taken place over the years.

For anyone not aware, then there are various accounts of how the big manufacturers were taken for millions (billions?) by individuals able to set up operations to manufacture rubbish electrolytic capacitors and sell them to companies manufacturing things like PCs and laptops in the boom years, when they were using components as fast as they could be shipped.

Companies such as Dell carried the can for this. Although they were not at fault, they ended up paying to replace computers that failed thanks to these substandard components.

In one account I read back then, it seems one chap stole the design for capacitors being made by his employer, ran off and somehow managed to start a factory producing the same capacitors – but obviously with no R&D costs.

Unfortunately, while he may have been a good thief, and able to raise capital, he wasn’t so hot on the technical side.

The design he stole was either incomplete, or he couldn’t understand the detail.

While the caps he manufactured and sold worked fine for a while, they would inevitably fail in service (like Gloria’s above), and while he was insulated from the end-user, it was (and still is, as this has become a widespread problem) companies such as Dell that sold faulty goods, and had to compensate their customers.

There’s more about this online, on web sites such as

Others can be found that , look at the actual fraud itself, and the people behind it, such as the nice chap I just mentioned.

03/07/2018 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Good and bad, all at once

So, I spotted a nice car with a nice registration MG 14. My ‘sort of’ favourite style of two letters and two numbers, properly spaced AND with the bonus of commemorating MG (although I seriously doubt if that was the reason it was chosen for – it’s just a happy coincidence).

Mercedes has produced some particularly pleasing shapes in recent years (not counting the obligatory SUV ‘bricks’ of course), and this trend seems to be carrying on.

This 2015 C250 looks good, and makes up for two sins…

One, that it’s diesel-powered, two that it’s an AMG line. (that just irritates me in light of the REAL AMG Mercedes – this ‘line’ nonsense just involves picking bits from the AMG parts bin and sticking them on ordinary cars). AMGs have badges that say things like ‘C63’ on the back.

After years of finding fault with all the various lies told by diesel advocates, I’ve lost patience with them as they continue to make up more. One lot STILL claims diesel is better than any other vehicle fuel, and is gift that pours froth from their lord’s loins, while another lot whines on about sticking with it regardless of recent revelations, and another sounds as if they want to be reimbursed because they got stuck with diesels because “The government duped me into buying one”.


I suggest they all go get a suitable science/engineering degree, and work it out for themselves, instead of bleating like sheep!

Incidentally, this is NOT to be read as being anti-diesel in any way, I’m most certainly not. In fact, I’m impressed by the advances made with these engines.

My gripe is really down to the politics and the lies that went on in the background, promoting them over petrol, and fiddling things so that the gullible public would buy them.

2015 Mercedes C250 AMG Sport D [MG 14]

2015 Mercedes C250 AMG Sport D [MG 14]

03/07/2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Today is Chocolate Wafer Day

03 July is Chocolate Wafer Day.

I was pleased to this day turn up as it’s nice to see something lighter on offer than the more usual chocolate cakes, puddings, or biscuits.

I think chocolate wafer fall broadly into two types, those that are open wafers with chocolate fillings or flavouring, and those that are coated with chocolate. I’m happy with either.

I sometimes get the impression they’re not taken as seriously as their more solid siblings, possibly because they don’t last as long. Wafers tend to melt away, unlike other biscuits such as chocolate digestives or similar, which take a lot more crunching to despatch.

Incidentally, I’m specifically EXCLUDING caramel wafers.

I find them no fun at all – nearly always built with a toffee-like caramel that never melts, and simply serves to waste the wafer.

Open Chocolate Wafers

Open Chocolate Wafers

I’m not sure of a plain (ie not chocolate but say vanilla) wafer coated with chocolate counts as a chocolate wafer. But who cares?

Just to be sure though, this is a chocolate coated chocolate wafer.

Chocolate Coated Chocolate Wafer

Chocolate Coated Chocolate Wafer


Chocolate Coated Wafer

Chocolate Coated Wafer

03/07/2018 Posted by | Civilian | | 2 Comments


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