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Posts Tagged Rants

J5 Tactical Flashlight: Loose PCB

I’ve been using the J5 Tactical flashlight as a “walking light” on our walks around the neighborhood, because its bright white spot has definitely caused a few drivers to look up from their phones at the last moment and swerve away.

Of late, however, it turned on with a weak light and operated erratically. Removing the lens and unscrewing the front end revealed one mmmm potential problem:

J5 Tactical Flashlight - loose LED PCB
J5 Tactical Flashlight – loose LED PCB

It looks like they’re depending on the “gold” in cutaway plated-through holes to make electrical contact with the aluminum mount, then through the threads to the case. The PCB joint would work much better with consistent pressure all the way around its perimeter.

I mashed the PCB into place with a machinists vise, but, given the number of problems I’ve had with J5 flashlights (one a QC reject), they’re on my Non-Preferred Vendor list; if I’m going to get junk, I may as well pay bottom dollar.

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11 Comments

Monthly Image: Electrical Safety FAIL

Our room in a pretty good motel (pronounced “No Pets Allowed”) had the light on the wall above the beds plugged in thusly:

Motel outlet 1
Motel outlet 1

Next to the other bed was the outlet for the between-the-beds nightstand with lamp and clock radio plugs:

Motel outlet 2 - side
Motel outlet 2 – side

Which looked not-so-bad from the side, but not-so-good from the top:

Motel outlet 2 - top
Motel outlet 2 – top

It’s all fun and games until you grope for your metal-frame glasses in the middle of the night and they fall off the nightstand … hasn’t happened yet, but it’ll be spectacular when it does.

I think the original beds were narrower, with more clearance around the outlets, but we’ll never know. Those Panera Bread outlets pose similar problems.

27 Comments

Encrypted Email: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

So this arrived from an email address similar to, yet not quite the same as, the URL of a physician’s office where I had an appointment a few days hence:

Encrypted Email Message
Encrypted Email Message

My email client is set to prefer plain text, disallow remote content, and not open attachments, so that’s as far as it got. Donning asbestos work gloves and face mask, I pried open the message and its attached HTML file with the appropriate tools and found, as expected, scripts doing who-know-what.

Called the office and, also as expected, was told my appointment time had been changed.

Showed up, mentioned it to the doctor, and was told the office must check off many boxes to demonstrate its HIPAA compliance.

Bottom line: HIPAA now requires patients (a.k.a., us) to open random attachments from random senders, all in the name of privacy.

Banks do that, too.

3 Comments

Firefox + uBlock Origin vs. CNN Autoplay Videos

Set up these filters in uBlock Origin, per some hints:

||registry.api.cnn.io/assets/fave/theoplayer$domain=cnn.com
cnn.com###large-media

All those annoying CNN auto-play videos will vanish, along with any videos you might have wanted. For me, it’s a reasonable tradeoff, as most (useful) videos will be available on Youtube or elsewhere.

The built-in browser controls you might think of activating, as I have, don’t work on CNN videos, because CNN uses theoplayer, a “universal” Javascript-based player. It’s not Flash, it’s not HTML5, it’s not a specific video thing, it’s a way to work around all those blocking mechanisms.

Mostly, I don’t get news from CNN, but occasionally a link will lead there, a video appears, and instantly gets muted.

Burn them. Burn them all.

Update: Some sites run auto-play videos through JW Player, which you kill thusly:

||jwcdn.com
||content.jwplatform.com

That blocks the source of the player, which seems to not depend on the site using it. So far, so good.

2 Comments

Dutchess Rail Trail: Maloney Rd Trailhead Ruts

It seems the DCW&WA SUV makes regular trips through the “No Motor Vehicles” bike access:

Maloney Rd Trailhead - 2018-11-07

Maloney Rd Trailhead – 2018-11-07

If it’s not them, then it’s somebody following their example.

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should … but, of course, the ordinary rules apply only to little people, not public servants.

Someone in the bike advocacy apparat once told me I’m the most cynical, bitter person they’d ever met, at least on the subject of getting along with public servants. As I see it, I came by my attitude honestly.

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1 Comment

Congratulations!!

This just in (clicky for more dots, but not clearer dots):

Spam image - xxx

Spam image – xxx

Yes, the attachment was named xxx.jpg, presumably so I wouldn’t suspect it of containing anything untoward.

The name-dropping definitely adds verisimilitude: not just Microsoft (or Micro Soft) Windows and Google, but Yahoo, too. Be still, my heart!

It’s unclear how I would contact their “fiduciary agent in LIMA PERU” by dialing a 909 area code in California or sending an email to, um, eaaj@europe.com, but, hey, why not? Perhaps another version of me in a parallel universe used the Peruvian Internet?

This must be one of those scams where, if you’re bright enough to notice the problems, they won’t need to waste any time on you.

You’re welcome to my identification numbers. When you get the check, slip me maybe 100 large, preferably under the table, and we’ll call it square.

Sheesh

4 Comments

Amazon Unit Price Anomalies

Backstory: we get Kirkland almond butter from Amazon, because it has consistently good quality at a reasonable price. Kirkland being the Costco house brand, we’re obviously buying it from someone arbitraging the Costco price. The nearest Costco is over an hour away, so spending $60 for a membership (*) just to get almond butter doesn’t make sense.

However, I’ve discovered Amazon’s “buy it again” prompting generally doesn’t offer the best deal, so I start each purchase cycle with a general search. The current results proved interesting (clicky for more dots):

Amazon - unit pricing FAIL

Amazon – unit pricing FAIL

Let’s go through this slowly.

The first result shows the “unit pricing” isn’t done automatically, because it’s completely wrong:

Amazon - unit pricing puzzle

Amazon – unit pricing puzzle

I can figure half of $27.52 isn’t $9.17, but dividing $27.52 by three really is. Dividing by two, the actual size, says the correct “unit price” is $13.76 each. Oddly, searching a day later showed the price went up to $28.69, with the same incorrect divide-by-three unit pricing error.

The “Amazon’s Choice” result simply means a bunch of people bought from that listing, not that Amazon has an actual involvement apart from raking in their take. There’s no unit pricing, but each jar works out to $13.59.

The last result confirms Amazon’s unit pricing bogosity by (correctly!) dividing $26.23 by two, but then claiming the unit price is “per ounce”.

Weirdly, everybody selling the two-pack prices it that way:

Amazon - unit pricing consistent FAIL

Amazon – unit pricing consistent FAIL

We’re surely not looking at half a dozen heads of the same hydra, so this bogosity derives from the commingled UPC (ASIN, whatever) warehouse stock technique giving Amazon a way to avoid responsibility for counterfeits. Somebody (presumably at Amazon) selected the calculation to produce the unit price, but fat-fingered “per ounce” rather than “per each”, and now vendors just bid for that UPC without sweating the details.

You’d (well, I’d) think a bit of Amazon’s much-vaunted machine learning would go a long way toward sorting this out, but it doesn’t.

Word: any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.

(*) Right now, it’s $8.79 direct from Costco online and their 5% non-member surcharge seems survivable.

4 Comments