Posts Tagged Rants

Walkway Over The Hudson: Privileged Parking

Walkway West - Privileged Parking
Walkway West – Privileged Parking

Although different rules apply to the Park staff, so they can drive back & forth across a crowded Walkway with impunity, it’d be courteous if they didn’t block the bike rack with their vehicles. After we parked our bikes in the rack, the woman riding the third bike couldn’t get out and two other riders simply leaned their bikes against the Welcome Center.

Privilege is one thing, flaunting it seems entirely unnecessary.

I’ve yet to understand why the staff must drive over the Walkway at any time, not just park on the pedestrian plaza, as there’s a perfectly serviceable bridge designed specifically for motor vehicles barely half a mile to the south. Heck, on a clear day, you can even see it from the Walkway. [grin]

Our bikes get us from one end to the other in under ten minutes, about as fast as the Park staff can drive, so using a car doesn’t provide any speed advantage. I can carry a week’s worth of groceries in my bike trailer and rarely see the staff carrying anything bigger in the car, so a “we must haul stuff” excuse seems self-serving.

Every “unintended acceleration” mass-casualty incident involves a vehicle, a bunch of pedestrians, and a driver who never thought it could happen. Proactively eliminating vehicle traffic from the Walkway seems much easier than explaining why you didn’t.

Parking vehicles in appropriate places doesn’t require any explanation.

Thanks …

Email to Walkway Over the Hudson

I should have sent it to the sprawling NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, but I hoped the Walkway staff could forward it to the right person. Haven’t heard anything back; I should have saved the electrons.


Hearphone Deterioration

I bought my Bose Hearphones in late August 2017, so they’re just shy of two years old, and have used them more-or-less daily since then. Although the innards still improve my hearing, the exterior is falling apart:

Bose Hearphones - cosmetic repairs
Bose Hearphones – cosmetic repairs

The conspicuous blue tips come from silicone tape holding the “soft touch” silicone shell together:

Bose Hearphones - detached band cover
Bose Hearphones – detached band cover

The white line seems to be silicone glue holding the hard cover plate to the equally hard base. So far, it’s working, but the two-piece soft cover is peeling away from the very thin adhesive (?) holding it to the hard parts.

The silicone glue under the flexy cover on the control pod along the right earbud cable hasn’t fared as well:

Bose Hearphones - failed control cover
Bose Hearphones – failed control cover

I blobbed ordinary RTV silicone under the cover, ignoring the caveats about acetic acid corrosion, because I don’t have any platinum-cure silicone on the shelf.

When the blue tape wears out / falls off, I’ll replace it with black silicone tape going further up the ring to hold the rest of the soft cover in place:

Bose Hearphones - cosmetic repairs - detail
Bose Hearphones – cosmetic repairs – detail

The ear buds have soft silicone strain relief tubes around the cables. The friction holding them in place failed long ago and, because no adhesive will work with silicone, I wrapped enough double-sided tape around the cables to produce a sticky lump jamming them in place:

Bose Hearphones - ear piece strain relief
Bose Hearphones – ear piece strain relief

A bit of the muck sticks out on both ends and I expect to replace the tape every now and again:

Bose Hearphones - earpiece repairs - detail
Bose Hearphones – earpiece repairs – detail

I also expect to replace the non-replaceable lithium battery / cell in about a year, as they’re now barely adequate for a day’s use.

Fortunately, I can’t see any of this hackery while I’m wearing the things:

my face I don’t mind it,

Because I’m behind it —

‘Tis the folks in the front that I jar.


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Epson R380 Printer: Waste Ink Counter Reset

Following the same drill as before, the Epson R380 printer once again thinks I’ve changed its diaper before resetting its waste ink counter. Instead, I’ve poured what would be a moderate fortune of waste ink down the drain from the external tank, had I not grafted a continuous flow ink supply onto the thing.

To judge from how often I must reset the counters, I’m expected to buy a new printer every three years. For sure, it’s uneconomical to have anybody else (the nearest Epson Authorized Customer Care Centers is 68 miles away on Long Island) do the deed. As Epson delicately puts it “replacement of ink pads may not be a good investment for lower-cost printers”.

Epson now provides a utility allowing you to reset the counters exactly one time. Having a scrap Windows PC ready to go, I didn’t bother capturing the partition before firing off the previous Sketchy Utility™, nor did I restore it, so the whole process took about half an hour.

The hard drive platters will eventually become nightlights.



Money For Nothing: Bitcoin Blackmail

The spam filters on my email account snagged a message with an impressive subject:

Be sure to read this message! Your personal data is threatened!

The sender used my very own email address, sending the message from a server with a Mumbai IP address:

As you may have noticed, I sent you an email from your account.
This means that I have full access to your device.
I’ve been watching you for a few months now.
The fact is that you were infected with malware through an adult site that you visited.
If you are not familiar with this, I will explain.
Trojan Virus gives me full access and control over a computer or other device.
This means that I can see everything on your screen, turn on the camera and microphone, but you do not know about it.
I also have access to all your contacts and all your correspondence.
Why your antivirus did not detect malware?
Answer: My malware uses the driver, I update its signatures every 4 hours so that your antivirus is silent.
I made a video showing how you satisfy yourself in the left half of the screen, and in the right half you see the video that you watched.
With one click of the mouse, I can send this video to all your emails and contacts on social networks.
I can also post access to all your e-mail correspondence and messengers that you use.
If you want to prevent this, transfer the amount of $796 to my bitcoin address (if you do not know how to do this, write to Google: “Buy Bitcoin”).
My bitcoin address (BTC Wallet) is: 14tfS3 << redacted >> WH6Y
After receiving the payment, I will delete the video and you will never hear me again.
I give you 50 hours (more than 2 days) to pay.
I have a notice reading this letter, and the timer will work when you see this letter.
Filing a complaint somewhere does not make sense because this email cannot be tracked like my bitcoin address.
I do not make any mistakes.
If I find that you have shared this message with someone else, the video will be immediately distributed.
Best regards!

The threat uses Nigerian-scam grade English, evidently targeted at folks with both a guilty conscience and a tenuous grasp on how email works. I thought those same folks would have enormous difficulty converting dollars into Bitcoin.

However, feeding the wallet ID into a Block Explorer shows three transactions over the last two days, with the account now standing at 0.43069539 BTC = US$2269.44. I have no way of knowing how many emails went out, but obviously three people had sufficiently guilty consciences to (figure out how to) make a Bitcoin transaction.

I’m sure this has something to do with my recent IP camera adventures

Update: The ransom payments tapered off after five days.

Bitcoin Scam - Total
Bitcoin Scam – Total

I don’t know how many different scams came from the same source, but $6700 (at today’s market rate) says this campaign paid better than most legal occupations outside the fintech sector.


Sharing the Road on Raymond Avenue

This time, I neglected to give my “We’re taking the lane!” signal, whereupon the driver behind us assumed we would all fit into the roundabout / traffic circle at Vassar’s Main Gate:

Raymond Ave - passing into Main Gate roundabout - rear camera - 2019-03-28
Raymond Ave – passing into Main Gate roundabout – rear camera – 2019-03-28

Raymond Avenue’s original “standards compliant” design has undergone some revision during the last few years:

Raymond Ave - passing into Main Gate roundabout - helmet 1 - 2019-03-28
Raymond Ave – passing into Main Gate roundabout – helmet 1 – 2019-03-28

The brace of black bollards centered on the median at the “pedestrian refuge” now replace the original quartet of illuminated, albeit non-reflective black, bollards, after errant drivers successively destroyed them.

There’s apparently no standard governing the placement or depth of drain grates along the right edge of the lane, nor the amount of gravel and trash allowed to accumulate to the right of the fog line:

Raymond Ave - passing into Main Gate roundabout - helmet 2 - 2019-03-28
Raymond Ave – passing into Main Gate roundabout – helmet 2 – 2019-03-28

Mary is just barely clearing the grate, I’m moving leftward to ensure I’m the first one to get hit. Fortunately, common sense broke out:

Raymond Ave - passing into Main Gate roundabout - helmet 3 - 2019-03-28
Raymond Ave – passing into Main Gate roundabout – helmet 3 – 2019-03-28

We got through the traffic circle without further contention and continued on our way.

Getting squeezed into a traffic circle happens often enough to show whatever NYS DOT uses as a “design standard” doesn’t include pedestrian or bicyclist safety as measurable quantities.

As we all know, anything you don’t measure doesn’t happen.



“New” Phone Battery

Having an ancient flip phone in need of a battery, I ordered a Kyocera TXBAT10133 battery from eBay. Described as “new” (which, according to the Ebay listing, means “New: A brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item in its original packaging”), I was somewhat surprised to see this emerging from the box:

Kyocera TXBAT10133 - not really new
Kyocera TXBAT10133 – not really new

It obviously led a rather hard life before being harvested from somebody else’s obsolete flip phone and is definitely not “new”.

Not yet having a deep emotional attachment to the thing, I set it up for a capacity test:

Kyocera TXBAT10133 - contact clamp
Kyocera TXBAT10133 – contact clamp

Given a very light 100 mA load, it shows about the same capacity as the original battery in our phone:

Kyocera TXBAT10133 - 2019-03-29
Kyocera TXBAT10133 – 2019-03-29

Given the precarious contact arrangement, the glitches near the right end aren’t surprising.

The battery label claims a 900 mA·h rating, so both have nearly their nominal capacity at such a reduced load. In actual use, the phone has a low battery after a few hours of power-on time, far less than when it was new.

The seller promises a replacement. For all I know, there are no genuinely “new” batteries available for these phones.



Poster Boilerplate: Whoopsie

Spotted this in a lobby (clicky for more dots):

Hannaford Reusable Bags - Poster Boilerplate
Hannaford Reusable Bags – Poster Boilerplate

I know no more than you do about the situation, but I’d lay long, long odds Hannaford created the poster with a more recent version of Microsoft Word (or whatever) than the recipient organization has available, making the file essentially read-only.

Not casting shade on ’em; sometimes, you do what you gotta do.

FWIW, I’d expect LibreOffice and any Microsoft Word version other than the exact one used to create the poster to mangle the formatting differently. Been there, done that.