Archive for September, 2011

Monthly Aphorism: On Money

  • Money changes everything

As evidence, read any of the myriad stories about folks receiving a huge slug of windfall cash that subsequently destroys their life. You won’t find many success stories, although that may be a sampling problem.

My buddy Aitch observes that a corporate implosion often occurs just after completion of a shiny new headquarters building in a far-off location. That construction marks the revenue peak, not necessarily the point where profit margins stabilize.

And, of course, carpet-bombing a company with C-notes doesn’t guarantee future success, as witness recent developments in the solar power field.

But the lure of easy money can be exceedingly hard to resist…

    Oh Lord! Let me prove
    Winning a Powerball game
    Would not change me. Much.

Government-run gambling boils down to a regressive tax on folks who weren’t paying attention during the probability and statistics part of math class. The fact that (some part of) the “profits” go into school budgets  demonstrates that irony remains an integral part of the modern world.

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External USB Case vs OEM DVD Drive Mounting Bracket

That little Lenovo Q150 doesn’t include an optical drive and, mostly, I don’t need one, but sometimes it’s handy to boot from a CD. I picked up a used DVD burner that also fits my Dell E1405 laptop (should I need a spare) and a tiny USB laptop drive case from the usual eBay sources for a grand total of $17 delivered.

The drive had a mounting bracket on the back that obviously had to come off, because the bracket screws snuggled right in among the USB adapter electronics:

E1405 DVD drive bracket vs USB electronics

E1405 DVD drive bracket vs USB electronics

In fact, that flat tab with a hole would have clunked up against the back of the case and prevented it from sliding all the way in, but the screws also foiled Plan B: flip the bracket around so the tab goes under the drive where it couldn’t get lost if I needed it again.

So now the bracket & screws live in a little bag in the Box o’ USB Stuff.

The DVD drive works fine with just a single USB cable, although the case came with a power-only USB cable, so the latter also lives in the bag with the bracket. Maybe I’ll need it in the unlikely event I actually burn a DVD in that drive?

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Shower Faucet Handle Tightening

Some years back I replaced the shower stall faucets; they’d lasted about half a century, which is good enough. The new faucets were American Standard Cadet/Colony (their choice of name, the current Colony valves seem similar) with a nice, smooth exterior. Of late, both handles had become slightly loose and I finally got around to tightening them.

Shower faucet valve stem

Shower faucet valve stem

The handle setscrews accept a 5/64 inch hex key and pop easily off the stems, revealing the splined plastic (noncorrosive!) mount on the valve stem. The Philips screw in that is what’s loose and allows the whole handle to wiggle just a bit; tightening the setscrew doesn’t help.

Of course, tightening the screw in the cold water stem tends to open the valve, so you must firmly wedge the splined mount. I’m sure there’s a special wrench for that, but I just held it tightly; next time I’ll try a strap wrench.

One would ordinarily dose the screws with threadlocker, so as to never have to endure this dance again, but these screws have coarse threads that engage another plastic doodad that engages two wings on the splined mount. So I guess I must retighten them twice a decade or so.

The handle interiors sport a bit of corrosion (which does not respond to vinegar, so it’s not hard water mineralization), but nothing terrible. The setscrew, mirabile dictu, seems to be stainless steel…

Shower faucet handle - splines

Shower faucet handle - splines

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Corelle Fragments

I fumble-fingered a plate, it fell between my tummy and the counter, and hit the floor edge-on. There’s a lot of energy stored in that stretched-glass ceramic layer! [Update: The glass is under compression.]

Shattered Corelle plate on floor

Shattered Corelle plate on floor

The fragments tend to be slivers rather than chunks, all with better-than-razor-sharp edges:

Corelle slivers

Corelle slivers

A bit more detail on Corelle in that post

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Reversal Zits: Early Action Variations

While cranking out some Tux Cookie Cutters, I varied the Reversal settings to see what effect they’d have on a single object with a smooth perimeter. I’d previously settled on 25 rpm for 125 ms with no early action, so this series tests three different times with early action turned on.

Position 1, where the perimeter threads join. Yes, I have Jitter activated and cranked up to something like 10, but it obviously has no effect on this object:

Position 1 - Reversal 125 100 50 - early

Position 1 - Reversal 125 100 50 - early

Position 2, where the nozzle enters from the outside to start a new thread. The snot hanging off the end makes for an ugly wad:

Position 2 - Reversal 125 100 50 - early

Position 2 - Reversal 125 100 50 - early

Position 3, another nozzle entry point:

Position 3 - Reversal 125 100 50 - early

Position 3 - Reversal 125 100 50 - early

Early Reversal action simply doesn’t work well. With retraction times sufficient to prevent drooling, stopping the extruder before the end of the thread produces unacceptable gaps and starting it before reaching the thread produces hanging snots when the nozzle passes over an existing wall.

Shorter retraction times produce strands all over the object, because the extruder still contains pressurized plastic and drools.

I’d previously discovered, although I didn’t write up, that unbalanced Reversal times didn’t provide any benefit: inhale and exhale times must be essentially equal to prevent either starving the first part of each thread or serious drooling. So there’s really only one degree of freedom: the total volume of plastic = rpm x duration.

Perhaps having separate early action times would help: adjust the shutdown and startup delay times independently of the total Reversal inhale/exhale time. Right now, those delays are simply the inhale/exhale times, evidently assuming clean cutoffs and startups, which obviously isn’t the case.

And, alas, the Reversal Threshold bug remains unfixed, so you (well, I) can’t tell Reversal to not operate across short motions like the end of one thread and the not-quite-adjacent start of the next.

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Another Tread Gash: Tire Liners FTW Again!

Found this in the front tire of my Shop Assistant’s bike.

Front tire gash

Front tire gash

It’s a Primo Comet Kevlar, not that the Kevlar belts can cope with an assault like that. The smooth surface at the bottom of the gash is the tire liner, of course.

She won’t be using the bike for a while, though, so I’ll keep our stock of new tires for our bikes. I’m sure they’ll come in handy this season.

Sheesh!

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DNS Optimization

A discussion on the MHV LUG mailing list pointed to the Gibson Research DNSBench utility. Letting it chew on all the nameservers it can find, then mulling over the results for a bit, produced this short list:

  • NY Public Library: 68.88.88.2
  • Level 3 Comm: 4.2.2.3 or .5
  • Yale: 130.132.1.10 or 11
  • NTT: 129.250.48.98

Feed those into Network Manager (or /etc/resolv.conf) in some permuted order and away you go… at least if you’re near Poughkeepsie and using Optimum Online. Change anything and the results will differ.

I’d been using OpenDNS at 208.67.22[02].22[02], but the new ones test out as marginally faster and are certainly more diverse. Who knew NYPL ran a DNS?

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