Monday, October 25, 2004

New toy (finally)

Four weeks and one day after winning the auction, the Rio Chiba arrives at my door. Naturally, I already gave up waiting and bought a Virgin Pulse 256MB player on clearance at Target for a (super cheap) $35.

A few interesting notes now that I've used more than one of these things:

  • Both players can be accessed (in XP at least) without installing any extra software. Actually, the Virgin Pulse model required a firmware update first, but that's close enough.

  • Both players have practically the same interface and "software." I imagine that the Virgin Pulse people licensed the hardware from Rio

  • The Virgin Pulse model supports reading MP3's off the unit, as well as subdirectories. The Rio doesn't support either.

  • Both models have 256mb of memory on-board, which translates to about 3.5 hours of music. I added another gig to the Rio, which should give me about 17 hours of music. More than enough for the whole day for my long days.

Friday, October 22, 2004

What kind of a bike do you have?

A twenty-four cylindar two stroke Sweet except for the fact that you have to start each one by hand...

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Funniest. Movie. Ever

Bought on a tip from someone that Shannon works with (which usually is a bad sign. a VERY bad sign). Super Troopers turned out to be pretty funny without being (too) raunchy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The joys of RSS

In reading the 42 articles that are unread this morning, most are the same, dealing with the lastest PDA/phone or how linux is better than windows or how we should elect John Kerry. Every once in a while, there is something truly interesting.

Monday, October 11, 2004

My dog isn't allowed on our bed

A tale of two thermostats

Changing thermostats should be easy. four steps:

  • Remove two bolts

  • Remove the thermostat housing

  • Replace the thermostat

  • Installation is reverse of removal

Sure, you could drain the coolant, but you shouldn't lose much since the thermostat is on the top of the engine, right?

Things aren't so easy if you changed the thermostat on my Corvette a few years ago:

  • Pull off some hoses and engine accessories to get to the thermostat housing

  • Reach a wrench down there (Weren't those supposed to be studs? Why are they bolts?)

  • Lefty-loosy.

  • Lefty-loosy a bit harder. Snap! Shit!

  • Try the same for the other bolt. Snap! Damn!

  • Pull of the thermostat housing, remove the thermostat, stare at the two snapped bolts.

  • Realize the following: The car came with studs holding the housing in for a reason; Someone had already changed the thermstat and replaced the studs with grade 2 bolts; Cheap steel bolts make the aluminum corrode, which makes the steel rust, which siezes the bolts.

  • Try the following without success: torching the bolts; vice grips; hammer/pounding on the bolts; bringing out the big torch; welding a nut on the bolt

  • End up drilling / tapping a new hole inside of the old/siezed bolt.

  • This time, use grade 8 bolts (that won't likely snap) and anti-sieze.

  • Installation is a bit easier than reverse of removal

That was 2 years ago. I've forgotten about the pain and now have a good interview analogy (on how doing an extra 5% can save LOADS of time in the future). A few weeks ago on my drive to work (when it was 30 degrees outside), I noticed that my 300m had very little heat and the temperature gauge wasn't nearly as high as it should be. The obvious problem was that the thermostat was either opening too soon or was stuck (It turns out that it was opening early; found that out thanks to some boiling water and a thermometer). Time to change it.

  • Search for the thermostat on the top of the engine; give up searching for it.

  • Break open the shop manual. Realize that the thermostat is on the bottom of the engine.

  • Lift the car, find the thermostat housing, lower the car.

  • Drain the coolant. This is done by turning a petcock (what a terrible word: petcock) on the bottom of the radiator. Naturally, the petcock is plastic, so you can't use any tools to turn it. Unfortunately, the petcock is inaccessible from the top and needs to be turned from the bottom;. Unfortunately, it's a bit inside and practically impossible to turn by hand, since I can't really get a good grip around it.

  • Who cares what the manual says; turn the petcock open using pliers. I am smart enough to wrap the pliers in 4 layers of shop towl, no damage done to the plastic.

  • Kill time for an hour and a half while the coolant drains out very slowly.

  • Lift the car, realize that the oil filter needs to be removed before getting to the thermostat housing.

  • Remove oil filter

  • Remove the three hose clamps using the most useful tool in the world

  • Try (and fail) to remove one of the hoses.

  • Pull the thermostat housing off, thread it around the frame to get to the thermostat.

  • Change the thermostat.

  • Installation is reverse of removal

The probems with the vette were due to a poor mechanic; replacing studs with cheap bolts and not using any type of lubricant where corrosion is likely. The problems changing the thermostat on the 300 are largely due to poor engineering / bad packaging. At least I didn't need to remove anything large (like the engine) or use any real specialized parts.

I bet that getting the thermostat changed at a shop would be about twice as expensive with the 300 as it would with a "normal" vehicle. This begs the question: is it worth getting not-your-first-choice-vehicle because it may be more difficult/more expensive to work on? Personally, given the amount that things need real fixing, I doubt it.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Long ride last night...

100 miles; 2 hours

... boy my butt hurts. This winter, I'm saving up for a new seat

Notes from the ride:

  • Found an ATV/OHV park. I can't (really don't want to...) take the dirt bike there until I get some better gear

  • Next time you're in your car, pay attention to how fast it accellerates from 10-20mph in first gear. That's how fast my bike accellerates from 80 - 100 in sixth.

  • It's always nice to see another Hayabusa on the road. I wish I had a camera and really fast reflexes. This one had a lime green kanji and a nice loud pipe.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Probably not a good idea to get caught with this in an airport

Technology Associates: Gauss Gun

Check out the videos.

Who decided on the domain name?

Vote for "None of the above"

At least these were posted by different people...

From my RSS feed:

"And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam Hussein worth? And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait [in 1991], but also when the president made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq..."

-- Dick "Fuck Yourself" Cheney, 1992

(A whole lotta nothing)

Kerry a "tax-and-spend" liberal: Tell us something we don't know!
"You may have noticed he changes his position quite frequently, but not on taxes," Bush said. "In his 20 years in the Senate, he's voted to raise your taxes 98 times. Now all of a sudden he saying he's for middle-class tax relief."

((Everything In-Between)

At least I'm balanced...

Monday, October 04, 2004

We're back in business!

Ok. Who knows what happened. About 2 weeks ago, my web site (hosted by the jerks at Yahoo!) went down. No email, no web site, nothing.

I tried over the course of a few days to get it fixed. The only replies I ever got were automated "we're working on it" emails.

I tried to get information on how to transfer things. I got a single email that gave instructions on how to point the domain to a different DNS, and how they would be able to manage the domain name for "only" $35/year.

I finally was able to transfer my domain to a different registrar. Great.

Yesterday I got the confirmation of the domain name registrar change. Today, I chose lunar pages because I think they have a cool name... Actually, for $1/month more than Yahoo, I get a whole lot more space, twice the badwidth and 200 (vs 5) email accounts. So, if you want email, let me know. Sorry, and are already taken.

Lessons learned? Paying extra for some customer service is well worth it. Don't cheap out on important things.

The good news is that you now can keep up to date whenever my laptop breaks next. :)

New toy (maybe)

Finally getting a real MP3 player for the 4 hours once per week I spend in the car. Of course, I bought it on eBay.

Have I received it yet? no. Does the auction state "ALL PACKAGES SHIPPED WITHIN 48 HOURS OF PAYMENT" yes. Does the guy have a significant amount of negative feedback? yes. Am I skeptical that I'll actually receive the MP3 player? a bit.