Thanks to Betty Boop, fried clams

The tube on my Betty Boop standup cracked at the base the other day, so I found a neon shop online that’s closer than the last one I used in Maine and got a reasonable quote for repair. There was no address on the web site, just “North Shore”, but I got directions from the guy and it turns out he’s not even five miles away from J.T. Farnham’s in Essex, and I just found that Farnham’s has extended their season through December this year instead of November. So it’s fried clams for lunch on Sunday and prolly a quart of seafood chowder to bring home. Maybe a lobster roll, too, if I’m feeling a bit peckish. Must remember to bring cash. Can’t wait.

I took this photo in August 2008:

One job – they had one job

Here we see the problem inherent in mail-ordering shirts. The collar labels on these three claim they’re all the same size. The middle one fits well while the other two would have me mimic, respectively, a pup tent and a rather tightly-wrapped mummy.

I have sent words – restrained ones, I thought, considering the alternately grumbling and growling noises I seem to be making.

Excuse me while I fetch my eyebrows.

Heckuva profit margin, bub

I have a slow leak in one tire and, when the pressure monitor warning lit up again on Saturday, I stopped at a place near where I was that I’ve had previous good repair experience with. They found the leak is unfortunately on the shoulder and therefore not repairable, so I asked for a quote on a replacement. They said US$195 for the one, with installation, balancing, disposal, &c. included in that price.

That sounded a bit high to me, and it’s time I got a set of four anyway, so I checked Costco’s site when I got home. Their price for the same is $131 apiece, also including everything, but with their recurring $70 off a set of four Michelins deal that ended yesterday, it came down to $113 each. They’ll be at the warehouse tomorrow. My savings is the equivalent of five years of Costco membership fees.

What could possibly go wrong?

So a simple straight-line driverless shuttle spots ahead an 18-wheeler backing into a loading dock in front of it and stops – a smidge late and directly in the truck’s turning arc. Incapable of, say, tootling its horn melodiously while bellowing “Yo, dummy!” or quickly backing up 48 inches because “that numbnut doesn’t see me”, it sits there, obstacle stop logic performing perfectly, happily getting its bumper smushed. And it’s sponsored by the American Automobile Association.

For some reason, the local news story is not framed in the manner I just used, maybe because everyone wants driverless cars, don’t they, and we’ve all agreed not to be negative about them, haven’t we, and what’s Mr. Just-Ate-a-Lemon’s problem over there, anyway?

In related news, $300m of driverless and aptly-named imagocurrency Ether was accidentally stolen and then promptly digitally burned to a whisp as the inadvertent thief tried to return it. No smoke, no muss, no cleanup. Not even a sound effect, I’ll wager.

The long con fish story

A fine-toothed comb is passed through that “five months stranded in a sailboat” story from the other day in a delightfully expert fashion here.

When I initially read the story in the news, it was the fantastical shark details that wafted up to my crinkling nose not unlike a stagnant rock pool, but nothing about the story they told made sense, really. The not-so-finely crafted fish tale struck me as the ramblings of two small children who’ve broken a lamp and quickly invent a fairly complete but nonsensical alternate universe in which impish goblins did it, not them. In this case, one presumes with the hope of selling the Fantastic Unbelievable Story of the Broken Lamp and the Goblins for six or seven figures.

“And then, and then, and then, a force eleventy-‘leven storm hit for three days and it didn’t even show up on the satellite because the goblins hid it and stuff!”

Tales of the Bizarro World

Stylist: “I’ve never had corn myself, but I imagine people serve it something like this.”

Photographer: “Yes, probably so. All done?”

Stylist: “Yup!”

Be sure to click for a larger, more disturbing version

Found here, about three-quarters of the way down the page.

It’s possible, I suppose, that this is somehow imaged directly from a food stylist student’s cold-sweat nightmare just hours before a final exam.

Think of this: They actually had a marketing meeting at Rubbermaid, probably a fairly lengthy one, during which this photograph was shown, discussed, and approved, probably by all present. Amazing.

“We don’t need laptops. I don’t have to show you any stinking laptops!”

I didn’t know until a few days ago that many phones and tablets support USB mice, trackballs, and other devices through USB On-The-Go (OTG). After reading about it and that most Samsung devices support it, I got a pack of two Ugreen OTG micro-USB to USB Female adapters in the mail this week – US$7 – and was pleased to see it works on my 1920×1200 Galaxy Tab A 10.1″ tablet.

It’s a little strange the first time you see a traditional cursor on your tablet – see the middle of its lock screen in the photo below. I found that you can even control its speed under Language and Input settings on Android, so it’s now exactly the same speed as my desktop cursor. Buttons on my trackball duplicate the Android home and back functions, click-drag is the same as swiping, and the scroll wheel works perfectly. A slight touch of the trackball wakes up the tablet. With a trackball and a Bluetooth keyboard, there’s no need to touch the screen at all. Working with a remote 1920×1080 Windows 10 desktop becomes much easier and faster.

With a folding LED-backlit Bluetooth keyboard that has Android and Windows function keys, my favourite trackball connected through OTG, TeamViewer connected to my home or office desktop as in the photo below, a multi-angle folio cover, and a good pair of reading glasses, I’m not sure I have any need for a laptop. The only real difference is the screen size.

That trackball and its USB-connected receiver is Logitech’s Cordless Optical Trackman, long ago discontinued, with remaining new examples being sold for US$400-500 these days (when they were still being made, I believe their list price was $69). Why so exorbitant? Because it remains the best trackball anyone has ever made. I have two – bought at the much lower price, of course – that I’ve been using for many years at home and in the office, and this is one of three hot spares I still have that I bought for forty or fifty bucks apiece when they were still being made several years ago.

“Regarding your question on the price of cheese in Denmark…”

I believe I’d last no more than one question and one follow-up as an interviewer.

Excuse me, Prime Minister, no. What the people want to hear about is whether you can or cannot sack Johnson. Most think you can’t because, to date, you’ve let him get away with everything. So please stop with the supremely annoying prevaricating your advisers teach you. It’s not as clever as you obviously think it is; in fact, it’s far past tedious. No redirection: Answer the question yes or no first and then briefly explain why.”

New Print/PDF/Email function

I’ve added a new WordPress plugin called PrintFriendly for printing, emailing, and saving PDFs of individual articles on the site. I did this because for convenience I sometimes print or email myself the recipes I’ve posted here, and this plugin includes just the content of the article instead of the whole web page template, which was dumb. It’s much nicer looking and will save a lot of paper.

If you hover over sections of the article in the Print/PDF/Email dialog that opens, you’ll see that you can click to remove any paragraph, image, etc., making the output as abbreviated as you like, which I think is slick as a whistle. I’ve never seen this sort of feature in a print preview dialog.

The price for this is, alas, adverts the plugin author has included, but they appear only in the Print/PDF/Email dialog once you choose the output type, never on any page on my site or in your output. Without casting aspersions, I would suggest never clicking on them.

After enabling PrintFriendly, I removed the JetPack plugin Print, Email, and Pocket sharing buttons that used to be here. If you actually used the Pocket button, let me know and I’ll put it back in – I removed it because it looks cleaner without that button sitting all by its lonesome.

Practical application of Lucrative Coincidence Theory

Saturday, 29 July: Equifax shuts down a security breach of 143 million people’s SSNs, DOBs, addresses, etc. that had been ongoing since May.

Tuesday, 1 August: Equifax Chief Financial Officer and President of Information Solutions both dispose of a total of US$1.5M of stock options in unscheduled sales

Wednesday, 2 August: Equifax President of Workforce Solutions disposes of a quarter-million bucks of shares in an unscheduled sale

Thursday, 7 September: After biding its time – perhaps waiting until summer was over and all the staff was back? – Equifax announces security breach 41 days after they shut it down. 41 days seems like an awfully long time to me, but I’m no expert on security. Or securities.

Later on Thursday: Equifax insists – don’t you love when that word is used in news stories instead of “said”? – the three officers knew nothing about the security breach before their stock sales.

Yes, that’s right, the President of Information Solutions – sounds like the top IT guy to me – knew nothing, nothing of what may be the largest security breach in US consumer history 72 hours after it was shut down. By his own department. Mebbe in the same Atlanta building as him, I dunno…but jeez, shockingly poor communication must abound in that place. Or his competence is on a par with Jen Barber. In either case: Tsk.

Results of Finley Quality Used Car Test: Would not buy one from any of those three guys. Especially the one on the left.

Edited to add this notice that just appeared on my Credit Union’s login page:

Wait, I know, I know! Is the answer ‘Sell a bunch of stock before anyone gets wind of this’? Too late, you say? Pah. Skunked again.

When there are two conflicting versions of a story, the wise course is to believe the one in which people appear at their worst.

H. Allen Smith

What a load of horse potatoes

  • Made with Bulletproof clean coffee beans that are certified to be free of 27 toxins”
  • “…sustained energy and mental focus”
  • “…will allow people to conveniently take steps toward achieving their goals and unleashing their full potential”
  • “Brain Octane oil”

It’s true, they haven’t even added cyanide or hemlock to their buttered coffee – now gullet-ready at Whole Foods, five bucks a pop – because they respect their marks customers so much. I’m surprised, however, that they left out from today’s press release so many high-bogosity health claims frequently associated with I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Got-Butter Coffee. For instance, metabolism jump-starting and consequent miraculous weight loss – doesn’t buttered coffee like doing that anymore? Too tiring?

I’m thinking of calling Hogan Brothers Coffee Roasters and Barrington Coffee Roasters to ask if the Thunder Mountain and Barrington Gold blends I get from them are free of 27 toxins – and if they can name them. You know, just to give them a giggle.

Brain Octane oil indeed. Never give a sucker an even break or smarten up a chump.

Time for a cleanse in the form of a balancing load of bullshit antidote. This guy is my kind of cynic, and full of novel phrases. Both of these videos are NSFW due to salty language. First up, a teardown of the just-torn-down Juicero. (Seeks a buyer? Surely they jest.) He made this one three months before their end of days last week.

And a look inside a KitchenAid mixer:

All the modern conveniences

I discovered the other day that my standalone DVD recorder had made the Q sign since the last time I used it years ago, possibly due to a blown capacitor, apparently a common problem of aging with the model I had. Rather than just replace it, I thought, “Maybe video capture on PCs has come a ways since I last looked into it.” Years ago, video capture most often involved a PCIe card in the PC and the results could easily be mediocre, with dropped frames and other artifacts if you didn’t have quite a powerful and therefore expensive PC. It was more reliable to instead plug the VCR into a standalone DVD recorder, so that’s what I did back then.

And so video capture has improved, to the point of being ridiculously easy. For US$23 – a couple hundred dollars less than capture cards of years ago – I now have a much more convenient way to digitise VHS tapes, bypassing the old DVD recorder middleman and directly producing MP4s. It comes with editing software and works very nicely indeed.

There are no worries these days about performance and poor quality captures. Yesterday, my four-core/eight-processor/16GB machine – US$900 two years ago – was simultaneously doing all of the following without any performance degradation. In fact, the CPU usage hovered around 25-30% throughout.

  • Downloading 11GB of a TV series at about 3MB/second
  • Continuing the BitLocker encryption of all of my 5TB offsite backup drive, including unallocated sectors for safety
  • Writing 20GB of a few series of another programme to a Blu-ray data disc
  • On the 2nd optical drive, ripping the last 100 CDs I’d never gotten around to digitising, about one every four minutes; they’re all in the dumpster now along with the DVD recorder
  • Merging seven parts of one episode of “The Story of English” I’d downloaded from YouTube (eight episodes are there in full, but episode 3 is split up); five more old tapes went into the dumpster
  • Capturing audio/video from a 2-hour VHS tape to test the TOTMC device and saving to an MP4 file

The first major project will be to digitise W.C. Fields and Rita Hayworth films I have on the VHS tapes pictured below. To that end, my VCR is now on a short bookshelf shelf right next to the PC for maximum convenience. I believe I have about a third of the films below in digital form already and will investigate before I start.

How’d I get so many W.C. Fields films? Well, it certainly wasn’t because they were all available on video. A good number of these weren’t ever released on tape but were broadcast regularly on Sunday mornings by a local TV station many years ago. They had some rare ones and I got every one they aired during that run, editing out commercial breaks in real time.