Brush Clearing

Some recent brush-clearing along our usual bicycle routes:

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The bushes with oval leaves are Blackthorn, of which Wikipedia says “The shrub, with its savage thorns, is traditionally used […] to make a cattle-proof hedge.” They’re commonly found along the untamed border of Rt 376, as well as the rail trail.

It’s more effective than expecting my tax dollars to wake up and get to work …

UPC Scanner FAIL

One of the scanners glowed brightly in the rack just inside the Stop and Shop:

Stop-and-Shop Scanner Error
Stop-and-Shop Scanner Error

A closer look:

Stop-and-Shop Scanner Error - detail
Stop-and-Shop Scanner Error – detail

If I understand this correctly, CCRestart just crashed, so you must restart CCRestart. The entrance of a deep rabbit hole looms behind the Quit button.

The file extension and the overall UI make it reasonable to assume the scanners run Window CE, just like some voting machines.

To the best of my knowledge, the screen isn’t touch-sensitive. I passed up the opportunity to poke the buttons below the screen …

Maximum Strength Homeopathic HGH: Not

Spotted at an exhibition for Olde Fartes:

Somaderm homeopathic HGH
Somaderm homeopathic HGH

I think they just blew up the bottle label to human size, with no attention to the resulting pixelation.

One can find Somaderm on the Interwebs, which leads to the “Active Ingredients” list:

Somaderm homeopathic HGH - Active Ingredients
Somaderm homeopathic HGH – Active Ingredients

Looking up their NDC number helps translate the bullshit Latinesque nomenclature:

  • Glandula Suprarenalis Suis = boar adrenal glands
  • Thyroidinum = cow thyroid glands
  • Somatropin = human growth hormone

They’re exceedingly proud of that NDC number, touting “SOMADERM Gel is the only transdermal, FDA registered product”. Indeed, it’s registered, about which the FDC has this to say:

Assigned NDC numbers are not in any way an indication of FDA approval of the product.



With that in mind, consider the dilutions:

  • Glandula Suprarenalis Suis = 1 part per million
  • Thyroidinum = 10 part per billion
  • Somatropin = 1×10-30 = there are no words

Homeopathic “drugs” never list the starting concentration or amounts in the product, but diluting something by a factor of ten-to-the-thirty ensures not one single molecule of the original compound will make it into the bottle. This, of course, means the HGH is at “maximum strength”, in the homeopathic way of magical thinking.

You’ll surely find some molecules of pig brain and maybe even a few molecules of cow glands, but I suspect they’re not buying the “active” ingredients in shipping container lots. In round numbers, one pig adrenal, one cow thyroid, and one drop of actual HGH would supply their needs well into the future.

I would like to see how they dilute those ingredients, because I doubt they have legions of trained homeopaths succussing bottles against elastic surfaces.

Of course, such dilution requires careful attention to detail, lest a stray molecule make its way into the final product, which surely justifies the punch line:

Somaderm homeopathic HGH - Price
Somaderm homeopathic HGH – Price

There is also a $150 “Membership Price”, suggesting a multi-level marketing scam running in parallel. Some rummaging on their website reveals cryptic phrases confirming the suspicion: “Be the change that will inspire others to follow” and “Information on how to become a distributor“.

Ya gotta admire ’em for not even blinking.

A note on commenting: there is zero evidence of efficacy¸ so don’t even try to advocate homeopathy. If it worked, it’d be medicine, not a MLM scam.

Wyze Cam vs. Xiamoi-Dafang Hacks

The Wyze Cam is a surprisingly inexpensive camera firmly lashed to the Wyze app, with no provision for ordinary IP camera streaming. It seems to be a generic camera with custom firmware and, unsurprisingly, one can commandeer the bootloader with different firmware from a MicroSD card, thereby adding missing functions and suppressing undesired actions.

Oddly, buying a genuine Wyze Cam directly from Wyze isn’t significantly more expensive than a generic from the usual eBay / Amazon sellers. Bonus: the legit camera arrives next week rather than in a month or two.

I found one of my few remaining 2 GB MicroSD cards, formatted it with a 512 MB (!) FAT32 partition (per the suggestions), set up the “custom firmware” bootloader, and installed it with no issues.

Installing the new firmware requires copying a directory tree, configuring the WiFi SSID and password in the usual wpa_supplicant, and rebooting. Works fine and, yeah, the camera now runs Linux.

I told the router to assign a known IP address to the camera’s MAC address, set up port forwarding for port 8554 to that IP address, put the camera against the storm window in the kitchen, and rebooted everything to get it working:

Wyze Cam in kitchen window
Wyze Cam in kitchen window

Unfortunately, while it works more-or-less well with browsers on the local network, it’s apparently inaccessible from outside. The router manages a DDNS name-to-IP mapping to make itself findable, the port is open, the forwarding seems correct, no image data arrives to browsers outside, and they eventually time out.

Changing to port 8080 doesn’t help, nor does using MJPEG instead of H264 encoding.

Even more unfortunately, the router doesn’t do hairpin connections (inside to outside to inside), so I can’t debug this mess from the Comfy Chair.

This is a placeholder for what I’ve done while I accumulate more knowledge …

Garden Hose Y-Valve Autopsy

One of the handles snapped off a Y valve at the garden and I finally got around to an autopsy:

Garden Y Valve - cross sectioned
Garden Y Valve – cross sectioned

That’s using a 24 tpi bandsaw blade, which doesn’t cut nearly as smoothly as a fancy diamond saw, but seems good enough for the purpose. Most of the ripply shading on the cut plane comes from specular reflections; it’s pot metal all the way through and cuts to a high shine.

A closeup shows more detail around the (now hemispheric) ball valve:

Garden Y Valve - thread detail
Garden Y Valve – thread detail

You can see faint straight lines just inside the hose threads, which gives a hint of what’s to come.

Pry out the sectioned ball and dislodge the O-ring from the now-obvious insert:

Garden Y Valve - O-rings
Garden Y Valve – O-rings

Gently squish the threads in the bench vise to pop out the insert:

Garden Y Valve - plug removed
Garden Y Valve – plug removed

If lives depended on it, one could dismantle and repair the valve without recourse to a bandsaw, but …

MPCNC: Re-Relocated Probe Camera

Although the camera doesn’t hit anything, it seemed entirely too exposed out in front:

MPCNC - relocated camera - front view
MPCNC – relocated camera – front view

So I moved it to the back, where I can’t see it and maybe won’t clobber it:

MPCNC Re-Relocated USB Camera
MPCNC Re-Relocated USB Camera

The camera sensor is now almost exactly aligned with the XY axes, so the goofy rotation is gone and the offsets look better:

bCNC - Rear-mount Camera Probe Config
bCNC – Rear-mount Camera Probe Config

The size of the “10 mm” inner circle at the crosshair depends on the target distance, so it’ll be smaller for surfaces clamped onto and thus rising above the table. Depending on how much that matters, I can tweak the camera focus and scale factor to make the answer come out right.

The setup at the home position looked like this from a different perspective:

MPCNC - Rear-mounted USB Camera
MPCNC – Rear-mounted USB Camera

No operational change, just a cleanup.

Debranded HP w2408 Monitor: Revived

Three years ago I found a bulgy electrolytic cap inside a failed HP w2408 monitor:

HP 2408 monitor power supply - HV cap bulge
HP 2408 monitor power supply – HV cap bulge

Back then, a 150 µF 450 V cap of the proper size (the 30 mm height being critical) was difficult to find and relatively expensive to purchase in onesies from the usual reliable sources, particularly as the repair advice I could find suggested it probably wasn’t the causing the monitor’s problems. So the monitor sat in pieces in an out-of-the-way corner of the Basement Laboratory while other events transpired.

As part of a long-delayed Great Cleanup of Small Projects, I discovered the caps are now four bucks delivered from halfway around the planet, so I got one, did the swap, reassembled the pieces, and the monitor works just like new. No pix, but you get the general idea.

For another few years, anyway.

For whatever reason, the 3.5 mm audio output seems dead. The monitor has a pair of teeny speakers that don’t do justice to its magnificent HDMI audio, but they’re entirely adequate for my simple needs: pre-SSH Raspberry Pi setup doesn’t call for much.