I’ve recently had three funny near-coincidences. Not the oh wow! kind for anyone but me. Fun though.

First, the other day, I was feeling bad for Marinella. She’s a medic, has been deep in the Covid thing, testing folks up in the hills. Had ordered a ultrasound scanner for her own use, but was getting a bit frustrated by it’s non-delivery (since arrived). She’s really a gynecological surgeon, so is pretty familiar with the scanners used for pregnancy but for respiratory disorders, a lot of seriously specialized and totally new stuff to learn (for everyone). But what I found frustrating was that she didn’t really have anyone to talk about such things with. Has gyno contacts but not really around Covid.

When I was getting into Web tech stuff, found a very good strategy for finding stuff out was getting on all the relevant mailing lists, IRC etc. Also contacting the experts in the field. This latter part not new to me, in a past life I got to meet a lot of experts around electronic music technology.

What genuine experts have in common is that they love talking about their subject. Ok, one or two may have a bit of ego, dismissiveness towards newbies. But even then, they enthuse, huge urge to teach. The greater the expertise, the more they want to tell you.

So I googled around folks involved around Covid. One person stood out. Prof. Akiko Iwasaki, has lab at Yale, @VirusesImmunity on Twitter. Not only one of the leading researchers in the world, also into outreach. So I mailed her, on Mari’s behalf, put them in touch.

Couple of days later, I’m half asleep with BBC Radio 4 on as per. Excellent Tim Harford thing, How to Vaccinate the World. One of the guests, a certain Prof. Akiko.

Second, last night I binge-watched BBC’s Traces. Very watchable Scottish noir. A Val MacDermott thing. In one episode, a night club scene, tune on, thanks Shazam, Fever by Endor. Oooh, shivers, I like that. So I find Endor on YouTube. Top of his list, a session, Endor live for Sankeys London.

Sankeys? Can’t be the same folks we used to visit very regularly at Sankey’s Soap, dance club in a former soap factory in Manchester..? Yeah, course it is.

I couldn’t remember when that was, But I remember one particularly good gig was Autechre. Easily found a reference. 1994. Bonus near-coincidence from that article. I believe we also saw the Chemical Brothers for the first time there. That night Mark E. Smith from The Fall was there. Years earlier, Sarf London, I had a brief fling with Charlotte who was in The Fall. Never (knowingly) met Mark E. Smith.

Third, this is a beautifully odd one. I subscribe to Sam Battle on YouTube, better known as Look Mum No Computer. He’s rather a brilliant music synth tinkerer (with an accent that so jars with this poor northerners ears!). Building an interactive public synth museum. 3 days ago he put out a vid Bouncing Balls With DIY Electric Analog Circuits.. Great stuff. The thing from classic analogue computers.

Eager to see his schematic, I looked at Description links before he’d got to it. In the middle:

The ‘Dr. ayers’ link takes you somewhere else, watching vid further it’s actually a thing done by a Dr. Ayars. Ok, not a great coincidence that he accidentally uses my surname.

Perhaps more of one when you consider I’m currently working on an analogue computer, was chatting via email with another guy mentioned there, Prof. Ullman, just last week. (Very helpful advice. For switches on the integrator Sam goes very 1960’s and uses relays, I was struggling with this, expecting some long hours on the breadboard with FETs, but Bernd told me about some quad analog switch chip, ADG441, that work well with +/- 15v, only about $2.50 from Mouser).


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