Monthly Image: Deposit Slot

The Dutchess County Board of Elections occupies the building at 47 Cannon St which, if I recall correctly, was a Central Hudson Gas & Electric Company office back in the day.

CHG&E accepted bill payments at all hours through a little slot high on the wall:

Pay Bills Here - overview
Pay Bills Here – overview

A closer look:

Pay Bills Here - envelope slot
Pay Bills Here – envelope slot

It’s solid cast brass, neatly milled, and built to last a thousand years. They don’t make ’em like they used to, probably for good reason.

I’m told somebody once stuffed burning trash through the Arlington branch library’s book return slot. Nowadays, the fire code apparently requires the room behind the slot to be fireproof and isolated from the main structure, which may account for the popularity of outdoor book / media return boxes.

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DOT-01 NP-BX1 Battery Status

Back in February, a quartet of DOT-01 NP-BX1 lithium batteries for my Sony HDR-AS30V helmet camera had mediocre performance compared to an older Wasabi battery:

Dot01 NP-BX1 - new 2019-02
Dot01 NP-BX1 – new 2019-02

After eight months of regular use, they’re even further into mediocre:

Sony DOT-01 NP-BX1 - 2019-10-29
Sony DOT-01 NP-BX1 – 2019-10-29

In round numbers, they’re down from 2.8 W·h to 2.5 W·h and now run the camera for about 70 minutes, rather than 90+ when new. Our typical rides go for about an hour, which means I must swap batteries somewhere along the way.

I still dislike the notion of sticking a 16850 cell next to the camera and powering it from the USB charger running the M20 rear camera requires another helmet cable, but it’s obvious NP-BX1 batteries lack enough active ingredient for the long haul.

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Kenmore Gas Stove Oven Temperature Control Encoder

For the last year or so, the oven temperature control on our Kenmore gas stove has been decreasingly stable, sometimes varying by 100 °F from the setpoint before settling down somewhere close to what it should be. Spotting a replacement control board for a bit over $100, I decided the board used an absolute rotary encoder of the open-frame variety, so I took the thing apart:

Kenmore oven control - PCB overview
Kenmore oven control – PCB overview

The encoder was, indeed, an open frame:

Kenmore oven control - rotary encoder
Kenmore oven control – rotary encoder

The red droplet is DeoxIT, the rest of which went inside, just ahead of the contact fingers, and got vigorously massaged across the switch contacts on the wafer by spinning the shaft.

Some time ago, the membrane over the TIMER ON/OFF switch cracked and I applied a small square of Kapton tape. Having the entire controller in hand, I replaced the square with a strip of 2 inch Kapton, carefully aligned with the bezel marks embossed on the membrane, and now it’s smooth all over:

Kenmore oven control - Kapton tape cover
Kenmore oven control – Kapton tape cover

The MIN(ute) ^ switch required a much firmer than usual push, so I tucked a shim cut from a polypropylene clamshell between the membrane and the pin actuating the switch.

Reassembled, it works perfectly once more.

Gotta love a zero-dollar appliance repair!


Tire FOD

We rented a van to haul our bikes on a vacation trip, but the tire pressure warning alarm sounded when I turned into the driveway. Measuring the tire pressures showed the left rear tire was at 51 psi, far below the 72 psi shown on the doorframe sticker, and a quick check showed a possible problem:

Tire FOD - in place
Tire FOD – in place

The small circle in the tread to the left of that mark turned out to be a metal tube:

Tire FOD object
Tire FOD object

Their tire contractor determined the tire wasn’t leaking, the metal tube hadn’t punctured the carcass, and all was right with the world. After, of course, two hours when we expected to be loading the van.

The rental company was good about it, perhaps because I reported they sent the van out with the other rear tire grossly overinflated to 86 psi (!); obviously, their prep didn’t include checking the tires. Somewhat to my surprise, the space under the passenger seat for a jack was empty.

During the trip, the van laid an egg:

Transit Van with Egg
Transit Van with Egg

A good time was had by all, but our next bicycling vacation will definitely have much more bicycling and much less driving!

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Monthly Science: Weight

After another two months:

Weight Chart 2019-10 - Ed
Weight Chart 2019-10 – Ed

The trend is definitely not uniformly downward, perhaps due to my increasing ability to accelerate (small) masses against the local gravity vector and, definitely, garden harvest season. My pants still fit fine, if that’s any indication.

I’ll add a skin-fold caliper dot to the weekly record after I can get repeatable measurements, perhaps by marking the test spot with a Sharpie.


ID3 Tagging From File Names

The Forester can play MP3 files from a USB flash drive and, given the utter craptitude of radio stations around here, I dumped a bunch of CD tracks onto a drive. For historic reasons, very few of the tracks had ID3 tags, so the Forester’s display showed only gnarly file names for the last few years.

This burst of Bash line noise runs through the directory of album directories, extracts the relevant information from the directory and track names, then pops the tags in place:

for d in * ; do for f in $(ls $d) ; do art=$(echo $d | cut -d- -f1 | tr '_' ' ' | sed 's/-/ - /g') ; alb=$(echo $d | cut --complement -d- -f1 | tr '_' ' ' | sed 's/-/ - /g') ; t=$(echo $f | cut -d- -f1) ; s=$(echo ${f%.*} | cut --complement -d- -f1 | tr '_' ' ' | sed 's/-/ - /g') ; id3tag -2 -a"$art" -A"$alb" -s"$s" -t$t $d/$f ; done ; done

It’s (marginally) easier to see this way:

for d in * ; do 
 for f in $(ls $d) ; do 
  art=$(echo $d | cut -d- -f1 | tr '_' ' ' | sed 's/-/ - /g')
  alb=$(echo $d | cut --complement -d- -f1 | tr '_' ' ' | sed 's/-/ - /g')
  t=$(echo $f | cut -d- -f1)
  s=$(echo ${f%.*} | cut --complement -d- -f1 | tr '_' ' ' | sed 's/-/ - /g')
  id3tag -2 -a"$art" -A"$alb" -s"$s" -t$t $d/$f

What’s going on:

  • cut – extracts track number and song title
  • tr – convert underscores to spaces
  • sed – put spaces around hyphens

The id3tag program can install either ID3V1 or ID3V2 tags on each pass, so I just recalled the command, edited the -1 to -2, and ran the whole mess again.

After a bit of manual cleanup, things looked pretty good.

Although the id3ren program seemed as though it could do the trick, it’s really intended to rename files from existing tags. Making it go the other way rapidly became a steel-cage death match; I gave up.


Manjaro Linux VNC Setup

I installed the XFCE flavor of Manjaro Linux (beside Win 8.1 Pro) on a new-to-me Dell Latitude 7250 serving as our new Token Windows box and carry-along-able Linux laptop.

Manjaro being an offshoot of Arch, they have plenty of guides and references, with How to Set up X11VNC Server being most useful at the moment. This box needs only a VNC server and apparently works with ‑xdamage for faster updates.

With the laptop plugged into an external display and Manjaro set up to use both displays, the X11VNC server feeds both to the client with the proper positioning, producing a truly panoramic, albeit scaled, view:

WinFlip - X11VNC dual screen
WinFlip – X11VNC dual screen

TightVNC on Windows does much the same thing, although (AFAICT) Windows doesn’t allow different background pictures on the two screens; that’s irrelevant to my mmmm use case.

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