Saturday, 7 April 2012

By on April 7th, 2012 in forensics, technology

09:01 – Okay, this is really strange. When we did the first draft of the forensics lab book a few years ago, we recommended one of those small portable BLB fluorescent tube UV light sources. Since then, technology has moved on, and UV LED flashlights have become commonplace and inexpensive.

So, on March 23rd, I ordered this 9 LED 400 nM UV Ultra Violet Blacklight Flashlight 3AAA, 7301UV400 from an Amazon Marketplace vendor, for $3.59 with free shipping. (The price has since increased to $3.79.) I wasn’t expecting much, especially with shipping included in the $3.59. On the other hand, I think I mentioned that a couple of years ago I bought a package of 10 six-LED white flashlights at Lowes or Home Depot for $9.99. A buck each, including the AAA batteries, albeit cheap zinc-carbon ones.

When I got the confirming email from Amazon, I was surprised to see that it showed the expected arrival date as “Wednesday April 18, 2012 – Friday May 4, 2012”. I figured they must be back-ordered, but I really wasn’t in any hurry. Then, three days later on March 26th, I got email from Amazon saying that the product had shipped, but that the expected arrival date was still April 18th through May 4th. I wondered how it was possible to ship something on March 26th that would take three to five weeks or more to arrive. Slow boat from China?

Well, yes, as it turned out. Or at least a slow plane from China. The flashlight arrived yesterday, with a Par Avion label and customs sticker. It was shipped from Hong Kong. How in the hell can you ship anything from Hong Kong for $3.59 and not lose money on the deal?

The flashlight itself is of surprisingly good quality, at least on superficial examination. I was expecting plastic construction, but it’s made of machined metal, apparently aluminum. The switch is in the base, and seems solid. And the nine UV LEDs put out a lot of light. I suspect the 400 nM label is accurate, because the output is right on the edge between visible deep violet and invisible long wavelength UV. In the dark, ordinary white objects are lit in deep purple and fluorescent objects, including most white paper, fluoresce brilliantly. I suspect this unit would quite useful for scorpion hunting, as well as all the other things a UV light source is usually used for. For $3.59, I’m happy with it.

22 Comments and discussion on "Saturday, 7 April 2012"

  1. Miles_Teg says:

    They don’t ship to my “default address”, which is a PO Box. Perhaps they don’t even ship to Australia. Amazon did recommend a number of torch outlets, including this one, which I assume does ship to Australia:

    Ray/any of the other torch nuts, does their stuff look any good?

  2. Alan says:

    Interesting…if you have Amazon Prime that flashlight is sent from an Amazon warehouse with two day delivery.

  3. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Ah, I just noticed that things have changed since I ordered. Amazon didn’t fulfill that item as of the date I ordered. My order went to a dealer called BestDeal777, which fulfilled the order itself. As of now, if I click on that item in my order history, it takes me to the correct item page, but it now says “Sold by OPOWAY and Fulfilled by Amazon”. Also I see that the price has increased from $3.79 when I posted this morning. It’s now $3.84.

  4. BGrigg says:

    Sure, now that you’ve pointed out they’re losing money!

  5. Chuck Waggoner says:

    This is just one reason I will never live in a former Confederate state.

  6. OFD says:

    None of that has anything at all to do with being a former Confederate state or a southern state or a western state or whatever. Racist profiling shit might have gone down there, but reports of this sort of incident have been turning up all over the country over the last few years, and it happens to white people, too. In northern states. Former Union states. The cops have been turning into paramilitary blueshirt thugs and when stopped by them, on foot or in a vehicle, my advice is to keep your hands in plain sight, make no sudden moves, follow directions, and remain calm. Do not answer a list of questions and if arrested clam up until a lawyer arrives, period.

    The legitimate racist angle here is that cops were doing this to black people for many decades and profiling them, whether in affluent white ‘hoods or in the inner city ghettos. And right or wrong, a large part of that was survival on the street. Hard but true.

    That incident in Texas is just more evidence of how out of control these guys have become and it can as easily happen to Chuck in Tiny Town or me up here in lily-white northern Vermont.

    Not to change the subject, but here is more stuff on how the banksters operate in this country, yes, What a country!

  7. SteveF says:

    I should start carrying a UV flashlight on the chance that I run into a newsperson coming off an interview with a prominent Democrat politician. They always claim those are just mayonnaise stains, but if the stains glow in UV, it ain’t mayonnaise.

  8. Chuck Waggoner says:

    OFD says:

    Not to change the subject, but here is more stuff on how the banksters operate in this country, yes, What a country!

    Which is the perfect lead-in to a BBC piece on how Germany operates to actually change things, instead of just letting the bad times flow. Get the episode for 20 March called “The Secret of German Success (you have about a week to do that).

    The short of it, is that–instead of putting people out-of-work by shipping jobs abroad, they changed laws regarding economic policy, to allow some reductions in manufacturing wages, so China wasn’t beating the pants off them. Second, Germany has always valued family ownership over big business owners, and thus, profit expectations by family owners were not sky-high, as it is with huge corporate in America. Family-owned manufacturers were happy with less short-term profit, in favor of a long run with the business. Thus, lots of manufacturing by the Mittelstand (medium-sized business) still populates Germany. This program also noted that cities in the former East, like Leipzig, are doing better than many places in the West. Hmm.

    Thanks for the practical advice on what to do if confronted by The Man. I’m afraid my fuse is much shorter in my advancing years, than it used to be, while my physical capabilities for a fight diminish. It would be a terrific effort for me to remain calm in a situation like that outlined in the Agitator.

    But it is the legal system in the Confederate states that I cannot tolerate. The fact that profiling occurs may be a problem everywhere, but only in the South will the courts ignore the obvious and get away with allowing a shooting like that one to go unpunished. And I’ll tell you, England is doing a much better job of coping with profiling and race crimes than the US, where that crap never changes, but just goes on and on, civil rights laws regardless. US courts are not offended by this stuff; they give it a pass, just like the lynchings of earlier generations.

    (Moral: don’t read the Agitator, if you don’t want your blood to boil.)

  9. OFD says:

    You are a bad, bad man, SteveF. But I love ya.

    If I was you, though, I would also carry that same flashlight in case you bump into Faux Nooz and related organizations’ reporters returning from interviews with the usual RINO suspects and any carny barkers pushing Bishop Mittens, esp. on the basis of the soon to be endless refrain of Anybody But Obama. Those ain’t mayo stains, either.

  10. Jim Cooley says:

    I got a UV flashlight a couple years ago and had lots of fun with it. Biggest surprise was my athlete’s foot: a brilliant, beautiful coral color. My Miracle Whip didn’t flouresce, though the ferret pee sure as hell did!

  11. Ray Thompson says:

    Ray/any of the other torch nuts, does their stuff look any good?

    They are OK. Their lumen figures are inflated. Current LED technology gets to about 200 lumens. That takes about 2amps from the batteries. Currently you need several AA’s in parallel or some CR123 cells. The biggest problem at that level is heat. LED’s generate a lot of heat at that level. Filament bulbs radiate their heat out the front, LED’s don’t. Good heat sinking is required.

    Those lights will be ok. Premium lights are much closer to white, those I suspect will tend to have a blueish tint and an uneven light pattern. But then I am picky. Buy ’em and enjoy ’em.

  12. Steve says:

    I coincidentally bought the very same UV light from Amazon 6 months ago, also for about $3.50… delivered by Amazon in 2 days with Prime. Indeed the quality is surprising!

    My mistake after playing with it (of course) is showing my wife. Who realized that it identified scary hidden stains all over our house.. and I had to go into “cleanup mode” for a whole weekend. The bathrooms were particularly bad, both from human, ah, cruft, but also mild (invisible to the eye) mold on the walls, ceiling, etc, probably from the humidity of the shower.

  13. Miles_Teg says:

    Cleaning other peoples’ bathrooms, shampooing their pooches, etc., are the sorts of jobs that can’t easily be outsourced to China, unless you pack up the bathroom, pooch, whatever and send it over there to be treated. This is one of the reasons I don’t buy the doom and gloom arguments about 99% unemployment. The system will adapt, new jobs in different areas will be created, if only we let it.

  14. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Sorry, guys. This little light won’t work for that, or at least not very well. See

    It might work in a completely dark room if you get the LEDs very close to the suspect stains and and use a narrow band pass filter for viewing.

  15. SteveF says:

    RBT, perhaps you do not understand where I’m coming from. I’m not doing science. I’m doing gotcha journalism per the template created by all the major players. All I need is a semblance of plausibility, a line of patter, and an axe to grind. Oh, and a blow-dried babe to be the face of my laboratory. I’ll put on a lab coat and be the sincere scientific specialist, or put on a sports jacket and hold sciency-looking gadgetry, whatever’s needed. It doesn’t matter what I do. All anyone will remember is the babe reading in a shocked voice, “Jessica Valenti was seen wiping her chin after a private interview with President Barack Obama. After the break we’ll reveal the shocking scientific evidence!”

  16. BGrigg says:

    Greg wrote: “Cleaning other peoples’ bathrooms, shampooing their pooches, etc., are the sorts of jobs that can’t easily be outsourced to China, unless you pack up the bathroom, pooch, whatever and send it over there to be treated. This is one of the reasons I don’t buy the doom and gloom arguments about 99% unemployment. The system will adapt, new jobs in different areas will be created, if only we let it.”

    Ah, the let them eat cake philosophy.

    Imagine being a highly paid whateveryoudo. Then your bosses, in order to keep the shareholders happy (they’re the ones that only buy shares from companies that claim “Our Greatest Asset Are Our People”), now make whateveryoudid in China. And your job is now some Chinese guy’s job, at a hundredth of the wage, and he’s thinking “Life is GOOD!”.

    So now you have a job washing Shi-Chi dogs. Enjoy your new standard of living.

    The thing is, Greg, is we’re not training our kids to groom dogs. We’ve told them to get college and university degrees and get GOOD jobs. Then we sent those jobs away to China, while allowing them to gather up $1 Trillion in student loan debt. In the US, it’s the illegal immigrants who are grooming dogs. One’s done pretty good for himself, too! But he’s an outlier, not the rule, even if his name is Cesar.

    I like how the people without kids think the world will be “alright” after the “adjustment”.

  17. OFD says:

    Hey, ya gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet, doncha know…globalization is where it’s at, homes! This will all shake out and shiny new high-tech jobs will be available or youngsters and oldsters alike can simply gin up that sparkly American can-do entrepreneurial spirit and create a new business in the flash of a pan!

    I think we have some pretty bad spasms coming up in the next few years and the general standard of living here will revert to circa 1900, if we’re lucky, and things will be much worse overseas. Eventually, after most of us here are dead, there will be a rebuilding of some kind; maybe like Robert’s idea of a vast population of dependents who are fat, dumb and happy while a tiny coterie of technical wizards make the whole thing work (sorry for the gross simplification). Or more like James Howard Kunstler’s, where the cities are pretty much in ruins or gone, and we’re back to regional agricultural and small manufacturing economies in the towns and villages. His timeline seems about right, too; probably 2020-2050, after a few catastrophes here and there for the country.

    Or it could be like a Mad Max/Blade Runner/The Road scenario.

    Happy Easter!

  18. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Well, I think a lot depends on how one defines “standard of living”. Consumption per capita is generally used as a proxy for SoL, but I don’t think it’s a valid one.

    Does the guy who drives a new Mercedes or BMW and lives in a 5,000 square foot home have a higher standard of living than the guy who drives an older Chevy or Toyota and lives in a 2,000 square foot home? By the usual calculation, he does. To my way of thinking, he does not. Both have the essentials well-covered, and both probably have most of what they want in addition to everything they need. In fact, the guy driving the Chevy may actually have a higher standard of living by my definition. The richer guy is, on average, probably no happier than the poorer guy, and it’s quite possible that he’s actually less happy. Sure, he can afford to buy more, but that often comes at the expense of his time being committed to maintaining that level of spending.

    I’ll never forget back in the 1970’s visiting a great bookstore in Cleveland with a friend of mine who was a physician. We had many shared interests, and he bought a bunch of books that interested both of us. We had to make two trips from the store to his 4X4 to carry them all out. As we left, he asked me to take his books and read them for him, because he didn’t have time to read them. “Let me know if any of them are any good,” he said. Dave had all kinds of money, but no time to enjoy it.

  19. Miles_Teg says:

    Bill Canute wrote:

    “I like how the people without kids think the world will be “alright” after the “adjustment”.”

    I’m doing work now that didn’t exist when I entered uni, or was completely different. The world changes Bill, whether you like it or not. Getting a job on the car assembly line or as a drone in a bank was the dream of 50% of kids when I left school. Those kids are doing other things now. The dopes are probably on the dole, the average and above are just doing something else. Something they like, in most cases.

    An old pal from primary and early secondary school contacted me last year, after a gap of 35 years. He’d left school at the end of Year 10, in 1973, to take a $30/week job as a storeman. Not a career with bright prospects. He’s morphed into a psychiatric nurse now. I never would have believed it. I’m sure we all know similar stories. If I lost my job I’d just get another one. If you lost yours I’m sure you’d find something else.

    And I agree with what the boss said about enough being enough. I have a 1540 square foot house that was considered above average in 1985, and insanely large for a single guy. It’s enough. If I had more space I’d just fill it with junk. I’d like more of this world’s goods but I don’t need them. I drive an 18 year old car, not because I have to but because it does the job.

  20. BGrigg says:

    I think you’ll find a lot of dog groomers take the bus and share an apartment and dream in vain of owning a used Chevy and their own home…

    IMHO, the interregnum, or omelet stage if OFD prefers, will be a much longer one than we can imagine. There will be an awful lot of broken eggs, and very few omelets at the end of it, if indeed it ever ends. The distinction between the rich and poor will get even larger, and the beat goes on.

  21. BGrigg says:

    You guys are all missing my point. Like Greg is missing the point of Canute, who proved the futility of a King who attempts to control the sea as if they were God.

    ‘Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.

    Though Canute still got it wrong. He would have been more correct to use natural laws, instead of eternal ones.

    The future will happen, yes. History tells us that. Even devastating plagues that wipe out a third of the population eventually bring about good change. Many who survived the plague found their labor was now worth more, for example. They still had to work six days a week, of course. Eventually can be a very long time.

    History tells me that whenever mankind gets to a point where equality, liberty, wealth redistribution and peace have a chance of breaking out, shit happens. And always by someone who will profit by causing the shit to happen. I make no real significant distinctions between a feudal warlord, a pirate, a nineteenth century robber baron, and a modern day CEO.

    It also tells me that the ruling nation loses it’s position after such changes, and slides into obscurity, or at best becomes insignificant. Egypt, Greece, Persia, Rome, Mongols, Spain, France, Britain, Austria, hell even little Holland at one time was a mighty and far-flung empire!

    The First Industrial Revolution gave us debtor’s prisons. What will the Second bring? I don’t count the “Computer Revolution” as the second, BTW. It’s merely the end of the first. It’s still using machines to replace workers.

    If the future will have 99% of fat and happy unemployed people living off the benevolence of the 1%, why is there so much resentment to Obamacare? Which is just the first step in this wonderful and new fascist future society. Why not “embrace the future” and start paying for the rest now?

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