Google Play Store Ad Bidding Delay

Being that type of guy, I turn my phone off during the night while it’s charging, turn it on for the next day’s adventures, and check the Google Play App Store to see which apps will get updates.

The vast machine learning / AI / whatever analyzing my every move still hasn’t figured out my morning ritual, so it desperately tries to sell me crap:

Google Play Store - app ad delay
Google Play Store – app ad delay

My guess: those blank spots are placeholders for app ads, but, while the phone is busy scanning for malicious apps, the ad bidding process doesn’t complete fast enough to update the display before I see it.

FWIW, I had the Genuine NYS Covid-19 app installed for a while, but I very rarely go anywhere or see anybody, so it seemed to offer no net benefit.

Natural Gas Meter non-Protection

Spotted on the way into a fast food joint:

Natural Gas Meter Plumbing - overview
Natural Gas Meter Plumbing – overview

Reading the lower meter seems particularly difficult:

Natural Gas Meter Plumbing - detail
Natural Gas Meter Plumbing – detail

Given how bollards embedded in concrete fail, they’re not providing any protection.

Did the meters get plumbed in first, with the bollards carefully fitted around them?

Elevator Control Quiz

You’re on the ground floor of a motel, on your way to your room on the second floor, and you’ve found the elevators:

Ground Floor Elevator Station
Ground Floor Elevator Station

Which one of those six button-like objects will summon the elevator for a trip up to your room?

Quickly, press one of them!

Side Marker Beam Patterns: FAIL

The truck side marker lights I’m thinking of using as daytime running lights have a pentagonal lens, so they should have a pattern with a bright central beam surrounded by five lobes. The one on Mary’s Tour Easy produced an oddly shaped blotch on the garage wall, so I ran the others though a simple test setup:

Side Marker - beam test setup
Side Marker – beam test setup

The lights sit horizontally in a small vise to keep them level and in the same position, although in no particular rotational orientation, and 100 mm from the graph paper. It’s running at 6 v to keep the brightness down enough to avoid blowing out the image. All of the images were exposed based on the central spot, so the surrounding paper gives some idea of the relative brightness: darker paper = brighter LED spot.

The front view of the lights comes from the stereo zoom microscope, with the wires gripped in a Third Hand and rotated to put the (inverted) TOP label where you’d expect it. They’re all roughly at the same position and pretty nearly lined up with the lens axis. The bubble-looking thing behind the central pentagon is the lens on the Piranha LED package, which should be centered but rarely is. You can see the dark orange square of the amber LED chip in some of the pictures.

Without further ado, the nine truck side marker lights that aren’t on her bike:

Side Marker E has a blob that looks like a cataract atop the LED lens, but it might be a mold imperfection.

Obviously, paying a buck a light doesn’t get you much in the way of build quality these days.

Dripworks Micro-Flow Valves: QC FAIL

We recently installed a Dripworks drip irrigation system for Mary’s garden and, of course, pre-assembled the emitter / dripline tubing, fittings, and supply / filter / plumbing for each of the beds in the Basement Shop. A few days after burying the main lines, plumbing the filter + pressure regulator, and plugging in half a dozen bed assemblies, Mary noticed some emitter tubes weren’t delivering any water and other beds seemed too dry.

N.B.: We bought everything directly from Dripworks. This is not counterfeit crap from a sketchy Amazon seller.

I cut the dripline just downstream of the Micro-Flow valve on a completely dry bed, whereupon no water emerged. Cutting the supply tube just upstream of the valve produced a jet squirting halfway along the bed. I tried and failed to blow air through the valve: it was completely blocked despite being in the “open” position. I installed another valve and the emitter tube started working properly.

I sat down at the kitchen table with a bag of unused valves and peered through them (the pix are through the microscope):

Dripworks valve - mostly open lumen
Dripworks valve – mostly open lumen

That’s one of the better-looking valves, with only a little mold flash in the lumen.

Partially occluded lumens were more typical:

Dripworks valve - partially occluded lumen
Dripworks valve – partially occluded lumen

Quite a few were almost completely obstructed:

Dripworks valve - mostly occluded lumen
Dripworks valve – mostly occluded lumen

For lack of better instrumentation, I blew through the valves and sorted them by effort:

Dripworks valve - sorted by blockage
Dripworks valve – sorted by blockage

Two of the valves in the group on the left are completely blocked, with the others mostly blocked.

The middle group has enough mold flash to produce noticeable resistance to the air flow. I think water would have more trouble getting through, but the emitters would at least look like they’re delivering water.

The group on the right has mostly unblocked valves, with visible mold flash but little restriction.

I have no way to measure the actual water flow, so it’s entirely possible the QC spec allows considerable blockage while still delivering enough water to the emitters. More likely, the spec assumes a clear lumen and the mold flash is a total QC faceplant; it’s obviously not a controlled quantity.

Well, I can fix that:

Dripworks valve - drilling
Dripworks valve – drilling

That’s a 2.3 mm drill going straight through the valve body. I drilled the valves from both ends and blew out the swarf:

Dripworks valve - drill swarf
Dripworks valve – drill swarf

That produced twenty valves with clear lumens. Of course, the drill leaves a slightly rough interior surface, but it’s now much easier to blow air through them.

We hadn’t installed the driplines in two beds with three emitter tubes per bed. I cut out those six unused valves and sorted them by resistance:

Dripworks valve - six samples
Dripworks valve – six samples

Both of the valves on the left are blocked, the three on the right are mostly OK, and the one in the middle is partially blocked.

With two dozen repaired valves in hand, we returned to the garden, I cut 22 valves out of the installed driplines and replaced them under field conditions. Returning to the Basement Laboratory, I blew the water out (*), sorted them by resistance, and produced a similar distribution, albeit with no pictorial evidence. Although we have no immediate need for the used valves, they’re drilled out and ready for use.

In very round numbers, you should expect:

  • A third of Dripworks valves will pass (close to) the expected flow
  • A third will have a minor flow restriction
  • A quarter will have a severe flow restriction
  • One valve in ten will be completely blocked

Plan to drill out all the Micro-Flow valves before you assemble your driplines.

AFAICT, none of the other ¼ inch fittings we used have any interior flash, so it’s only a problem with the valves.

We are, as the saying goes, not amused.

(*) If you will eat a peck of dirt before you die, I’m well on my way.

NYS DOT Motivation: Death

We have just started rolling from Overocker Road and the traffic signal on Burnett Blvd at Rt 55 (on the far left) has just turned green for the single car on the sensor loop:

Burnett Blvd Rt 55 - 2021-05-23 - 0 s
Burnett Blvd Rt 55 – 2021-05-23 – 0 s

Much to our surprise, 17 s later the signal is still green:

Burnett Blvd Rt 55 - 2021-05-23 - 17 s
Burnett Blvd Rt 55 – 2021-05-23 – 17 s

As usual, the unmarked sensor loop doesn’t detect bicycles and the control doesn’t take our clearing time into account, so the signal turns yellow 5 s later (after 22 s from turning green) while we’re still in the intersection:

Burnett Blvd Rt 55 - 2021-05-23 - 22 s
Burnett Blvd Rt 55 – 2021-05-23 – 22 sBurnett Blvd Rt 55 – 2021-05-23 – 22 s

After another 6 s, though, we’re through the intersection and lined up on the right side of Rt 55, just as the Rt 55 signal turns green:

Burnett Blvd Rt 55 - 2021-05-23 - 28 s
Burnett Blvd Rt 55 – 2021-05-23 – 28 s

Note that the Burnett Blvd signal remained green for 22 s, much longer than in bygone years, and the green-to-green time is now 28 s. We got through the intersection without any difficulty, although the green-to-red clearance time remains scanty.

Those of long memory may recall my writeup of the timing in early November last year. That was with many cars triggering the sensor loops, so the timings from a trip last July with a single truck-and-trailer tripping the sensor may be more relevant. Or take your pick from other timings done during the last six years; there’s plenty of data to show something’s new and different.

Mary recently discovered a reason why NYS DOT may have suddenly changed the signal timing at the Burnett intersection after all those years:

During the incident, a black Nissan Titan, driven by a 51-year-old male resident of Lagrangeville, collided with a bicycle, ridden by a 58-year-old male resident of Poughkeepsie, in the area of the crosswalk on the southeast portion of the intersection, said the Town of Poughkeepsie Police.

The bicyclist sustained serious injuries and was transported to MidHudson Regional Hospital.

The crosswalk mentioned in the article appears in the last picture.

The cyclist died of his injuries shortly after that article went live.

Mary knew him. He was one of the gardeners near her plot in the Vassar Community Garden who lived in the apartments a few hundred yards from that intersection, didn’t own a car, and, for years, rode through that intersection to the grocery store at the far end of Burnett Blvd (across another of DOT’s intersections). Everyone knew him as a nice, considerate guy.

When DOT tells you “Clearance times are determined based on speed, intersection dimensions, grade, and reaction time and cannot be adjusted” they don’t add “Because not enough people have died to get our attention.”

Death is the only thing that will convince NYS DOT’s engineers to change the signal timing at an intersection.

As far as I can tell, all of the other intersections along our usual routes still have the same inadequate clearance times. Evidently, the bicyclist death toll isn’t high enough to get their attention and evidence here doesn’t matter there, because motor vehicle traffic cannot be delayed, even for a few seconds, merely to protect the most vulnerable “users” of their facilities.

We’ve been bicycling all our adult lives and haven’t been killed yet, despite NYS DOT’s complete lack of attention. Our experiences justify my cynicism and bitterness.

I eventually figured out why no NYS DOT staffer will accompany me on bike trips along their “safe for all users” roads. If they did, they’d be unable to deny knowing how hazardous their engineering designs & maintenance practices are in real life, should the question come up in a court of law.

If you think that’s not the case, then let’s go riding together …

Road design, build quality, and attention to details matter, even though drivers and, yes, cyclists share some of the blame.

House Flipping

Sometimes I get text messages:

House Hunting Chat
House Hunting Chat

BzzzzclickNO CARRIER

I’m reasonably sure “Caroline” is really a property flipper, so we’re not in “her” target market.

Should you be interested in moving into the Hudson Valley, we can probably make a mutually beneficial deal. Protip: use email.

If only Android allowed whitelisting SMS message sources.