Day: June 28, 2012

Thursday, 28 June 2012

10:40 – We’re still working on building science kits, which is going to be my life for at least the next three months or so. We’re down to about five chemistry kits from the last batch of 30, but we’ll finish a new batch of 30 this weekend. Then we’ll immediately start on yet another new batch of 30.

I had been making up chemicals in one- and two-liter bottles. One liter is sufficient for 60 kits for chemicals that we supply in 15 mL bottles, and two liters sufficient for 60 kits for chemicals that we supply 30 mL. I made up the chemicals in small batches to ensure freshness. But now that we’re shipping more kits, I’m going to make up two liters rather than one and four liters rather than two. That’s sufficient for 120 kits with some to spare. It takes little more time to make up twice as much, and time is becoming an issue.

Actually, rather than make up two two-liter bottles, I’ll probably make up 3.8 liters in old gallon orange juice containers. Those have recycling codes of 2 (HDPE) and 7 (Other), so I’ll need to test them with some of the more corrosive chemicals we make up, such as 6 M hydrochloric acid and 6 M sodium hydroxide. I know, I know. In general it’s a horrible practice to make up hazardous chemicals in old food containers, but there’s no one with access to our work areas who’s likely to mistake a gallon of hydrochloric acid for a gallon of orange juice.

We’ll also be building Barbara’s new system this weekend. The Intel D2700MUD motherboard/processor showed up Monday and the Crucial 4 GB memory kit yesterday. We’ll use her existing hard drive and put everything in an Antec Sonata Designer case. This will be a very simple, low-power, quiet system. I don’t think we’ll bother to install an optical drive, since Barbara doesn’t use the one she has in her current system. We’ll just hook up a DVD writer long enough to install Linux and restore her data from disc.

I was going to order a new hard drive for Barbara’s new system. The one in her current system is an old 750 GB Seagate Barracuda. But it passes an intense disk test, so we’ll keep it for now. Speaking of Seagate, I think we’re finished with them for a while. We’ve had numerous premature failures of Seagate hard drives, including just yesterday a hard failure of a 2 TB Barracuda that had less than 100 hours of use. Hard as in rattled loudly when powered up. These things seem to go in phases. Years ago, we used both Seagate and Western Digital drives and had about the same experience with both. Then WD had a horrible run for at least a couple of years, when I wouldn’t touch one of their drives on a bet. For the last several years, WD drives have been much more reliable and Seagate drives appear to be in a bad spell. I have an unused 3 TB Barracuda that I intended to use as the primary drive in my new system (Barbara’s old system), and I’ll probably still do that. But I’ll keep a close eye on it. If I need to replace it, I’ll probably go with a Western Digital Caviar Green.

14:47 – I just ordered another 5,000 15 mL and 30 mL bottles and caps. It occurred to me that many of our wholesalers routinely post price increases as of the first of January and July, so I figured I’d better take some time now to get some purchase orders issued. I was actually going to order about twice as many bottles and caps, but the things take up a lot of space, which is in short supply right now. With the bottles already in stock, this order gives us enough bottles to make up about 60 more each of the biology, chemistry, and forensics kits. Now I need to get orders placed today and tomorrow with some of my other wholesalers for other kit components.

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