Which is master, and which slave?

My garage was built in 1951, three years after the rest of the house; the garage-door opener is clearly newer than that, but it’s pretty much an antique just the same. After six years, the aftermarket remote control failed — a new battery did not restore it to health — and I ordered a new one, same brand, pretty much the same model.

Now if you remember these old village-smithy openers, the actual remote code is set by a bank full of DIP switches, extremely easy to work but presumably very difficult, or at least very expensive, to duplicate in miniature.

And if you remember old IDE drives, they came with a couple of jumpers, which you had to set with a pair of needle-nose pliers to identify which drive was which to the controller. A genuine pain in the neck, but generally you only had to do it once.

Now copy that pain, paste it to the size of a remote control for a garage-door opener, and multiply it past all understanding: there are fourteen jumpers, each of which can be set in one of two positions. I wound up having to move eight of them and discard two others to get it to work. A genuine pain in the neck. I hope I never have to do this again. Then again, this opener’s days are probably already numbered: the guy who works on my door has warned me that parts supplies have long since dried up. (We’re talking seriously obsolete here.)


  1. Mark Alger »

    5 December 2009 · 8:08 am

    FWIW, I use hemostats to handle jumpers — for much the same reasons surgeons do.


  2. McGehee »

    5 December 2009 · 9:47 am

    That Stanley link is a damn good argument for why corporations with a good reputation shouldn’t license their name like that.

    As I’ve noted here before, our first cell phones were with AT&T Wireless, and our current cell phones are with AT&T Wireless, but the only reason it worked out this way is that the first AT&T Wireless was a separate company licensed to use AT&T’s name; it was acquired by Cingular before we got our second cell phones, and then Cingular was acquired by the real AT&T after that.

    Of course, I was talking above about corporations with good reputations, so the second paragraph of this comment is off-topic. Never mind.

  3. CGHill »

    5 December 2009 · 10:10 am

    I try to keep a pair of Don Alverso’s tweezers on hand for just such emergencies. (The standard is six pairs, but that’s above my pay grade.)

  4. canadienne »

    5 December 2009 · 4:24 pm

    The reference to Don Alverzo’s tweezers took me to Google, which took me here:
    which took me on a side trip to brass monkeys, which is relevant because we have a winter storm warning and have definitely had to bring the brass monkeys in.

    (Wikipedia spelled Alverzo with a zed – that’s a little Canadianism – so I assume there are variations.)

    (Edited by me to make the link work; WordPress hates the standard 7-bit apostrophe and won’t allow it, even when it’s in a link. — cgh)

  5. CGHill »

    5 December 2009 · 4:47 pm

    There are fleeting references to a Don Alverso (or Alverzo) cigar scattered throughout the Net, though the sort of cigar for which one might need tweezers defies description.

    Without actual video, here are Flo and Eddie actually performing the test, which they billed as “The Tibetan Memory Trick.” The full version, which explains too much about the Sanzini Brothers, is on their LP Illegal, Immoral and Fattening.

  6. canadienne »

    6 December 2009 · 12:02 am

    Very funny, thanks for the link – I had never heard of Don Alvers/zo, either cigar or tweezers, or Flo and Eddie, or the Tibetan Memory trick before. That’s why I keep coming back to this blog.

  7. CGHill »

    6 December 2009 · 12:14 am

    Flo and Eddie, originally the Phlorescent Leech and Eddie, were Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan of the Turtles, who, owing to a contractual dispute with White Whale Records, could no longer use the Turtles name. (They have since regained control of the name and the records.)

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