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New Oscilloscope coming May 22, 2015

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So I have been looking to replace my venerable old Tektronix 465 20MHz oscilloscope. The Tek 465 is a heavy beast and the limited bandwidth sort of makes it less useful. Granted it is a dual channel scope. I’ll put it up on Craislist for $10 and see if I get any takers.

I’ve looked at Owon, Rigol, and a few other vendors. I settled on the Rigol DS104Z. It’s a 4 channel 50MHz scope. And the hack is already out there to turn it into a 100MHz scope with a simple procedure.

For $399 it’s not a bad deal. Be very useful for some of the radio and oscillator projects I’m planning on building too. Plus two advantages it has over the Tek 465: the first is a 7″ color display, and then the two extra ports. Also has USB, and network connections too. Plus the form factor – it’s about 1/4 the size of the Tek 465 and weighs considerably less.

click to see bigger version

Just for comparison here’s a Tek 465 with the covers off. It’s huge and heavy.

The Rigol weighs all of 7 pounds. The Tek 465 tipped the scales at about 25-30lbs. So you can see how the Rigol will be a better scope for me.

New Deep Fryer May 22, 2015

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So a while back I bought a Fry Baby deep fry unit. It was good for proof of concept. But it’s limitations became readily apparent when I tried to do Scotched Eggs. If you’re not familiar it’s a soft boiled egg with sausage wrapped around it and then battered and fried. They’re fantastic. One egg is enough per person.

Anyhow I made four of them. Had to do one at a time in the little deep fryer.

The Fry Baby could contain maybe 500-700ml of oil. The new one is 3 liters.

Big enough to put about 3lbs of stuff in at a shot.

Now the quest for Peanut Oil in large quantity. I love frying in peanut oil.

Thanks WordPress – now I can exercise my inner demon May 20, 2015

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So I note that WordPress now show’s the little gridded months with your posts highlighting in various shades of blue. ANd most months lay out in a matrix that if I wanted, I could spell out rude messages by varying the days I post. Wouldn’t that be funny.

So lo and behold, USPS delivers May 15, 2015

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So I got a call from the Amazon vendor today. They contacted my post office and got them to deliver the package. And there was nothing wrong with the address label. They just didn’t want to deliver the item.

This is new behavior on the part of USPS. But as I alluded in a prior post – part of the problem is the Postal Service is hiring what are essentially temp employees.

USPS missed the boat. They should have seen that net connections would reduce the volume of mail pieces and diversified, say into banking, or improving package services. But they chose to continue down the same path. At some point they’ll just become another package carrier with the same shitty attitude like that of UPS or Fedex.

Never talk to your post office May 15, 2015

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Because when you do you find out it’s essentially a cluster fuck.

My latest two odysseys with the United States Postal Service include one where I shipped an item, and one where an item was shipped to me.

In the case of the former a 3 day delay was inserted into the process by a sort facility in Greensboro, NC. Just so happened those three days were on fin de semana or Weekend. I told the USPS CSR it sure like they shut down shop for the weekend. She insisted that they didn’t so I asked then what could be the cause for the item to be 250 miles from the destination and just sit there for the better part of three days? That was an entertaining conversation in which it emerged that Priority Mail 3 day is a best effort, no real guarantees but it IS fully tracked.

Now the latter – a pair of clippers for plants and flowers from Amazon. I check the status on Amazon, it was supposed to be delivered yesterday but I check the status and I see Undeliverable – invalid address.

But better – the item had gone through full sort – got into my local post office, went through secondary sort and got put on the truck for delivery. So the address label had to fly to get through that.

But talking with the local Post Office – the other factor emerger – the USPS uses a fuck ton of temporary workers. So it’s entirely likely that my item had a munged label where the ZIP+4 was present and the track number was there so it just slipped through the system.

But here’s the thing – that track number and zip code are enough to deliver the package.

USPS doesn’t do themselves any favors by putting all the information they do on tracked items. Because that’s how I surmised this whole thing.

Pharma Gone Mad: Latuda May 11, 2015

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So I’m watching on Hulu and an ad comes up for the bipolar medicine called Latuda. First the name – that’s rife for a joke I’m sure. But one of the side effects of Latuda is death, I kid you not. Death.

I’d call Death something more than a side effect.

Pharma has gone absolutely mad. How can you think Death is potentially better than being bipolar?

So the USPS 3 day priority mail is a BEST EFFORT ESTIMATE? May 11, 2015

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What the ever loving hell? Shipped a package down to North Carolina last Wednesday. Package cleared RI postal within 3 hours of acceptance and went into Raleigh. Raleigh tossed it to Greensboro, NC at 10:13AM on Friday. And then the package SAT in Greensboro until this morning.

The postal service in the south ain’t shit. Up here as I said – From acceptance to outbound was 3 hours. Down there it sits for 3 days. This jibes with a study I participated in several years ago. It was a mail accuracy study and at the end the results were shared with all participants. The northeast and west coast handled mail like nobodies business. The south sucked even then and it hasn’t gotten any better.

So I call USPS about this 5 to 6 day 3 day package. That’s when I found out it’s a best effort to meet three days. But it’s pretty clear the package sat in Greensboro, NC from Friday morning until this morning. What the fuck?

Finally weather I like May 10, 2015

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So today it got up to 86F, or for you metrically inclined folks 30C. I always say I’d rather roast than freeze. I like it hot. There are numerous benefits to hot weather.

Number one of which is not handing over a couple hundred plus a month to National Grid for natural gas service. Oh sure, they’ll get it from me when I start running the air conditioners. But I’d rather pay that. Natural Gas is a ripoff here.

And the other part – extended daylight. Yep I love it. It’s really nice.

Then there’s the other benefit – the eye candy. Seriously – when everyone isn’t bundled like Nanook of the North you get to enjoy the views as they may or may not apply to you.

Fixing air conditioners May 10, 2015

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I’ve gotten pretty adept at fixing broken electrical and electronic devices. Little over a year ago I fixed the television when the power supply went on the fritz.

And recently plugged in the window air conditioner only to find the find the GFCI plug kept tripping. This caused someone in the house to say let’s just buy a new AC. No fucking way. Spend another $100 or more, no. As well as having to dispose of the current AC unit. No.

For $17 I bought a 15 amp GFCI plug on Amazon of all places. They just delivered it today. I would love to know how Amazon get the United States Postal Service to deliver on Sunday. Because that’s how it was shipped – benefits of the Prime program.

So later on I’ll strip off the old GFCI, put the new one on and functional AC again. It’ll take maybe 15 minutes to remove the old plug, strip the wires, and setup the new plug but $17 is way better than $100 or more and it puts off complete discard of the AC unit for a few more years.

I’ve even rewired an air conditioner who took a slight over-volt and got that working again once. What can I say, I’m handy that way. Don’t throw it away, fix it.

Wherein USPS Screws the Pooch May 9, 2015

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So we tried to get a package down to North Carolina in time for Mother’s day. Sent it out via USPS on Wednesday. Now following the track the problem isn’t with the local USPS, here’s how it went:

May 6, 2015 , 8:40 pm

Departed USPS Facility

PROVIDENCE, RI 02904
May 6, 2015 , 6:55 pm

Arrived at USPS Origin Facility

PROVIDENCE, RI 02904
May 6, 2015 , 5:40 pm

Accepted at USPS Origin Sort Facility

PROVIDENCE, RI 02909

Now the package was handed to a postman and went into the local post office at 5:40PM. By 6:55PM it was at the main Sectional Sort facility and then departed at 8;40PM

It apparently spent two days getting to Raleigh, North Carolina, finally arriving in at 2:54AM. And then out the door but to Greensboro at 4:18AM. It arrived in Greensboro on the 8th at 10:13AM. And that’s the last status update USPS has for the package.

They say it will be delivered today which is FOUR days, not the THREE promised. But as yet the package hasn’t arrived.

They do say that Christmas and Mother’s Day are the two busiest times for USPS. But really – it shouldn’t fall down like this.

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