Wednesday, 30 January 2013

08:39 – Barbara just headed off to work. This evening, she’s meeting a friend for dinner and then spending the night with her dad. Her mom is doing much better. They have her on IV antibiotics for a lung infection, but I’d be surprised if they release her sooner than this weekend.

As usual, winter in Winston-Salem is a mixed bag. After an ice storm last Friday followed by several days of lows well below freezing and highs not much if at all above freezing, yesterday’s high on our recording thermometer was 76F (24C). It was 61F (16C) at 0645 this morning, and the forecasters say we’ll have strong thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes this afternoon and evening. Then the temperature starts dropping again, with lows the rest of the week well below freezing.

I’m still working, gradually, on getting my lab cleaned up. For the first time in a long time, I have visible evidence that the countertops are beige. I’m also working on the LK01 Life Science Kit, which we intend to start shipping in March.


53 thoughts on “Wednesday, 30 January 2013”

  1. Wow, crazy weather in the Carolinas and Tiny Town, too! Whole country is now heading for…The End Times…The Pit…etc., etc., signs and portents…etc., etc. Just channeling Charlie Daniels and the Devil there for a second, not to worry…

    Good deal on your MIL; hope they can stabilize her and calm her down a bit.

  2. High today is to be 68F (20C) with sustained winds of 20 to 25 MPH and gusts to 45 MPH. That’ll make it tough to walk Colin, who still chases blowing leaves.

  3. Since you don’t like physical exercise, have you ever thought of getting a cart and have Colin tow you around? It’d be good exercise for him and he might pester you a bit less.

  4. I don’t claim originality.

    I was cycling to work one day when a chap came the other way on a bike. He wasn’t peddling, he was being towed by a couple of dogs. BCs IIRC. A third dog was running free on my side of the cycle path. Fortunately I had enough time to avoid a collision.

    If I do get a BC then having him (her? which would you recommend?) tow me around a bit on the bike might be a good way to burn off energy.

    Yes, the site is a bit slow today.

  5. I’d recommend a male. We had females from time my parents brought home the first one in about 1958 until we got Kerry in 1988. Since then we’ve had four males, so I think we have a reasonable sample of female versus male. The females seem to be less sociable and more likely to be one-person dogs. The males are more outgoing and although they have each had a favorite person they’re also affectionate with other people.

  6. have you ever thought of getting a cart and have Colin tow you around

    We did that with a lab. My son was less than 5 and the dog needed exercise. So my wife scavenged some old 27 inch bicycle tires, built a small card, put together a harness for the dog and a neighborhood favorite was created. The roads in the neighborhood did not have many hills so it was not a big effort for the dog.

    The kids would show up and wanted to ride in the “dog cart”. The dog loved it and would get very excited when the harness was brought out. For a couple of hours the dog would run up and down the street with the cart loaded with a couple of kids. Did this two or three times a week.

    We did have one person stop and tell us that we were being cruel to the dog making her pull a cart. Rather than tell the person to go to hell I simply asked “Have you ever seen sled dogs?”. The person drove away without saying another word. Pulling the cart was significantly less effort than pulling a dog sled. The dog loved pulling the cart did not like it when the cart was put away for the day.

    This is the same dog that we took to TN with us. We acquired a pool with the house. Anytime the kids were in the pool the dog was also in, or around the pool. Dropping her ball on one side of the pool, running to the other side and jumping in to get the ball. The kids would drop the ball in sometimes, then grab the dogs tail while the dog swam to the exit. They would do this for hours.

  7. Dog carts were once pretty normal. Rottweilers and Staffordshire Terriers (AKA Pit Bulls) were good breeds for pulling, and many young farm kids delivered the produce to the market via dog cart. Now those breeds have been demonized, and all due to ignorant twits who think their dog is a synonym for their penis.

  8. My next-younger brother and I raised a litter of American Pit Bull Terriers back in the 80s and they are, to us, the most wonderful dogs in the world. Among their many accomplishments, we’ve seen them pull sleds loaded with a thousand pounds of cement blocks; climb trees; drive speedboats; and commandeer a school bus in Providence, Rhode Island.

    He still has an aging PBT at home but all we’ve had up here have been longhaired, dumbass golden retrievers, and the incumbent will be the last such. No more dogz, only cats. Dogz drool and cats rule.

  9. You must have a retarded one, every GR I’ve met has been pretty darn smart. Several have been smarter than their owner, and there is the possibility that the dog rises to the level of it’s owner…

    😀

  10. We feed them. bath them, clip their nails, take them for walks, pay for their vet visits, and clean up after they go to the bathroom. I don’t think there is any doubt that dogs are smarter then we are.

    as for cats vs dogs, I am reminded of a story.

    If you die and they don’t find you for several weeks, they will find your dead dog next to your mummified body or they find a fat cat next to your skeleton.

  11. Oh please; dogs will happily gnaw and tear at your remains when they get hungry enough. In packs they might do it while you’re still up and about. But try finding a pack of cats.

  12. Operation Overlord
    This may be a clueless suggestion, but can you use a dishwashing machine to clean the glassware? I have heard that temps are high enough to sterilize the contents of the machine.

    If you take your timevalue into account, the capital cost of the machine probably works out lower over the long term. Also, it must be so boring washing dishes, or in your case, glassware.

    C

  13. I thought about running some stuff through the dishwasher, but I don’t think Barbara would appreciate me using it to wash labware.

    I do discard a lot of glassware and plasticware.

  14. While doing work in an office last month I observed a fellow in a wheelchair being pulled by two chocolate labs. This was clearly a regular setup with trained aid dogs. The dogs had harnesses, he had a handle that looked like a water skier’s. The whole rig looked nice and high tech. No buggy whip.
    They stopped at the light and waited for green. Completely flat sidewalk and they pulled him with no real effort

  15. I’m thinking we give our little canine pals a break here and start using lawyers, stockbrokers and politicians to pull us along.

    And we definitely have buggy whips.

  16. ignorant twits who think their dog is a synonym for their penis

    So that is why my wife wants to always get small dogs.

    I’m thinking we give our little canine pals a break here and start using lawyers, stockbrokers and politicians to pull us along.

    They cannot be properly trained. And if you get more than one they will want to go opposite directions blaming the lack of consensus on the other all the while proclaiming there must be compromise while refusing to compromise themselves. You would get nowhere.

  17. You’re right, I missed the last blurb in the article. But when’s the last time your saw some kid strip searched at a public school? Probably yesterday. So much for the 4th Amendment comment.

  18. Strip-searching children and yanking their hair at public or private skools should be verboten. If the place is that fucked up, close it down. But we are seeing the Sovietization of our skool systems and the infantilization of our kultur writ large.

    “They cannot be properly trained.”

    Roger that. Lost my head for a minute there…

    59 here, supposedly, in north Williston, Vermont, astride the Winooski (Abenaki word for wild onions, which grow along its banks) River. Supposed to drop precipitously over the next few days and give us back our nommul wintuh.

    The gigantic complex here was built here so that the founding family could be near the ski areas. No lie.

  19. OFD wrote:

    “No more dogz, only cats. Dogz drool and cats rule.”

    Cats are evil. Pure evil. Look into their eyes one day Dave, you’ll see them staring back at you with eyes filled with pure, malevolent hate. They’d think nothing of eating you alive, starting with your extremities to keep you alive and your meat fresh as long as possible. A dog would defend you to the death.

  20. “I thought about running some stuff through the dishwasher, but I don’t think Barbara would appreciate me using it to wash labware.”

    She leaves the house for a number of hours most days, doesn’t she? What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

  21. OFD wrote:

    “I’m thinking we give our little canine pals a break here and start using lawyers, stockbrokers and politicians to pull us along. ”

    One of your better ideas. No one would think twice about using those animals for manual labour, or even scientific experiments.

  22. Ray, do you recommend Office 2010 or 2013? I can get Office 2013 cheaply (and legally). Does it matter if it’s 32 or 64 bit? Most f my PCs are 32 bit XP but I have one 64 bit W7.

  23. Typical of Indiana, we just had flood proportion rain (same system that is moving towards OFD and our host), and now the temperature is headed to 19°F and within just a few degrees of freezing now. Ground is covered with water, so it is going to be another slip and slide nightmare, just like a couple weeks ago. Arrgh!

    I am absolutely amazed at the number of people who let cats up on furniture. I have a friend who lives in the same house with younger family (in-law arrangement, only he is the uncle, not the in-law). He set some of his medication out this morning (what he would take in the evening), and the cat jumped up on the counter and ate it.

    We used spray bottles to train the cats to stay ON THE FLOOR. It worked. They were allowed in laps, but not on any furniture. They got the message. Never had any cat incidents after that.

    My son lives in an apartment building with a young cat that belongs to all 4 tenants (grad students, except for him). The cat moves between apartments at will, and does all his business outside. Good looking affectionate cat, but much too hyper, IMO. He might be on drugs, too.

  24. I’ll third that recommendation. The only reason to use MS Office is if the minor incompatibilities between it and LibreOffice are a big issue. I’ve been using Open/LibreOffice for a decade or so. I finally gave up on MS Word after about the tenth time it corrupted a big document irretrievably. I’ve never lost anything with Open/LibreOffice.

  25. If I do get a BC then having him (her? which would you recommend?)

    I’ve heard that “…there’s a reason they call female dogs bitches…”

  26. Re glassware and dishwashers: Does the basement apartment still have a working sink? If so, you can get a portable dishwasher and hook it up to the sink. You could even put a sign on it “For lab use only. Not for food containers or utensils.”, just in case the dishwasher outlasts you.

  27. I’m a big fan of machines. I don’t buy dishes or cookware that cannot be put in the dishwasher, and I don’t buy clothes that call for ‘hand wash’. In fact, from the time I was a teenager, I always said the two people I would like to meet and shake their hands were the inventors of the washing machine and dishwasher. Little did I know that I could have done that with the washing machine, as the guy with the most patents on the thing lived in Woostuh while I lived in Bean Town and he lived until sometime in the early ’90’s. He mostly was concerned with commercial machines for hotels, hospitals, and commercial laundries, but apparently, his stuff was copied on a smaller scale for home use.

  28. Yeah, the guy who invented washing machines deserves a knighthood and a sainthood. In the Sixties I remember my paternal grandmother, who lived next door, had a copper and some sort of scrubbing board for clothes. I don’t care about dishwashers. Unless I was in a commercial kitchen I couldn’t be bothered. I don’t generate enough dirty dishes and cutlery at home to justify one.

  29. LibreOffice, yes, but there are two caveats:

    First, people who are spreadsheet wizards tell me that Excel offers lots of advanced stuff that they need. For the simple stuff I do (grading sheets, simple graphs), LibreOffice is fine.

    Second, the compatibility with Office 2010 sucks. Older office formats work just fine, but if you touch an Office 2010 document of any kind with LibreOffice, you are pretty much guaranteed to destroy it.

  30. What Brad said. MS broke non-MS compatibility with their 2010 release, thereby accomplishing their goal of locking users into buying MS office apps.

    Tip: If you’re using MS Word, always save in the older format. If you’re in a position to push it, when you receive a document, insist it be in the older format.

  31. Right. .docx format is a nightmare to deal with. Non-techy people with Apple computers who have not bought M$ Word, cannot read it, and that is a problem for us in the video biz when we deal with other small businesses. All new computers default to docx. Even when people change the default, it will jump back to docx under certain circumstances. For large firms with IT departments, it is no problem, but for smaller ones who only hire IT help when there is trouble, we have frequent back-and-forth, trying to get them to send plain old .doc files to the people using Apple computers.

  32. I’ve heard that BS about Excel having features the power user needs. However I’ve never seen it. The usual problem is just some jerk who thinks he’s a whiz and has to have MS products. You can do it all with LO and the price is right.

    I do always set the default save for text and spreadsheets to the MS 97/2000/XP format for users. If they send an OD to a MS user they tend to get rude replies about how their document won’t open. (couldn’t be MS fault!)

    see this
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/01/30/office_2013_perspective/

  33. In my opinion, anything that can’t be done with the LibreOffice spreadsheet has no business being done in a spreadsheet anyway. There’s an old saying, “when all you have is Excel, everything starts to look like a spreadsheet”.

  34. Right. .docx format is a nightmare to deal with.

    Docx is nothing more than a compressed Doc (or XLS) formatted file. The file can be decompressed using 7zip (or ugh pkzip), the resulting file name changed, and the file opened in older versions of office. There were no other changes in the file format.

    Ray, do you recommend Office 2010 or 2013?

    For home use I would recommend Office 2003 and download the Office compatibility pack from Microsoft which will allow Office 2003 to read, and write, Office 2007, 2010 and 2013 formatted files. For Office 2003 I can get you an ISO (or executable) with an activation key that will NOT phone home. It is a perfectly legal key for me, others not so much. But I don’t give a rats ass. If anyone wants the key and link to the file for Office 2003 I will give it to them. The key is a static activation key that does not require any sort of activation.

    The major changes to Office 2007 (which Office 2010 and Office 2013) expanded upon were collaboration features, the ability for multiple people to work on a document.

    If you can get 2013 really cheap then use that as it is the latest version available. Of course my offer of 2003 is really cheap. And since you are running Windows XP I would very much lean toward the Office 2003 version. I don’t know if Office 2013 will run with Windows XP as I have never tried it.

    Does it matter if it’s 32 or 64 bit?

    Always, always use the 32 bit version of Office regardless of the 2007, 2010 or 2013. Most add-ons will not work with the 64 bit version. If you use Outlook this is especially troublesome for AV products that hook into your email client. There is ZERO advantage to the 64 bit version unless you have an extremely complicated spreadsheet with lots of permutations and complex functions or a word document that is thousands of pages long with embedded references, TOC, complicated index, etc.

    In actual practice the ONLY program that I have found that benefits from 64 bit features is Photoshop. And even then that is only for large images, processing several dozen at a time. Having 16 gig of memory and a high end video card does more for Photoshop than 64 bit vs 32 bit.

    If you can get an SSD installed that will be the single biggest speed increase in any application that you will realize. MSWord opens in less than a second, Photoshop in about 4 seconds. Marked difference from 15 seconds and 30 seconds it used to take.

  35. Interesting about the SSD; I will be in a position soon to choose what kinda hard drive I’m gonna throw into a machine at home. What about the stuff I hear about them just crapping out suddenly with no warning whatsoever?

    “Tip: If you’re using MS Word, always save in the older format. If you’re in a position to push it, when you receive a document, insist it be in the older format.”

    In regard to compatibility between LO and M$, would this also be true for PowerPoint stuff?

  36. SSD drives are the cat’s meow. No other single item speeds up a PC like a SSD. Out of 15 PCs here at the office, we now have 5 SSD drives. No failures to date. I use the Intel 180 GB model 520 for my office pc:
    http://www.amazon.com/Intel-Series-Solid-State-Drive-2-5-Inch/dp/B006VCP89O/

    I wish that I could afford the 480GB for the database server. That would be awesome over my 2 TB Caviar Black drive.

    Here is the SSD failure article that you are thinking of:
    http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2011/05/the-hot-crazy-solid-state-drive-scale.html

  37. “Non-techy people with Apple computers who have not bought M$ Word, cannot read it…”

    I’ve never had a problem viewing docx on a Mac. You can use the built in apps, Quick Look, or Preview, just fine. I’ve been using Macs for 5 years now. This goes back at least four OS iterations.

  38. What about the stuff I hear about them just crapping out suddenly with no warning whatsoever?

    It happened to my son. It was not a sudden failure but a gradual failure over time. The drive would suddenly disappear from the BIOS. The problem got gradually worse over about a month. It was apparently a known problem, not with the drive per say, but with the controller. He got a new drive under warranty. The drive was almost two years old, about a month from being out of warranty.

    I have had sudden failures on hard disks. Drive reported no space or no drive in the BIOS. Moving devices would seem to be more susceptible to failure than non-moving devices. The SSD’s do have a finite life but it is a very long time in the PC world, something like 10 years of normal use.

    The days of unexpected failures are diminishing fast as the technology matures. Stick with name brands such as Kingston, Intel, etc. and you should be good.

    The installation of an SSD really does speed up a system. A low end laptop that I installed an SSD in now works better than a laptop that is supposed to be three times as fast. The SSD is the single best investment you can put in a system to improve performance.

  39. I use the Intel 180 GB model 520 for my office pc:

    Just to make you feel bad I picked up a 180 GB Intel 530 on Black Friday for $100.00. I bought two of them, one for my desktop, one for the aforementioned laptop.

  40. The cat’s meow. You should hear my 18 year tabby come running at full volume when she smells me eating a can of sardines. She runs fairly well for three legs and one eye. And meows at about fire engine level.

    BTW, cats are apparently destroying the planet:
    http://io9.com/5979891/domestic-cats-are-destroying-the-planet?tag=biology

    Mine has done her fair share over the years on mice and baby rabbits. She likes to bring them in through the doggy door and execute them in my bedroom. Looks like a scene from a chainsaw massacre movie.

  41. I’m not a Mac person and sure don’t want to volunteer support in our case, but we have 2 people with Macs who claim they cannot open .docx. Now it may be that if they engaged some other program, they might be able to, but these are people who can barely navigate around a computer of any kind, and Mac is their preference over PC’s, because they believe PC’s are way too complex. They click on the email attachment, and the .docx won’t open, so that’s that for them.

    There is a lot of formatting to the legal documents we get, and my LO will not open M$-created .docx with the proper formatting. No problem if the document is .doc. I have the M$ compatibility pack for Office 2003 that Ray mentions above, so if formatting is wrong, what I do is open in Word, save as MS .doc, then open in LO and all is well. Still, that makes .docx a royal pain.

    Funny, in Germany, nobody wanted to upgrade their M$ products, but here in the US, even the smallest offices upgrade as soon as a new version comes out.

  42. Your tabby has been demonstrating her loyalty and job performance for you all these years.

    Cats are probably not gonna be the inheritors of the planet after we’ve been either eradicated, raptured or otherwise given the old heave-ho. The survivors will likely be coyotes (who will go after cats and everything else), rats, cockroaches and crows (probably the whole corvid family). And of course, insects.

    Unless we get hit by an asteroid and then all bets are off.

  43. Chuck, most of that problem is of course MS’s fault. They haven’t even supported their own so called standard. They introduced OOXML in 2007 but failed to use the real standard. The called it transitional XML. The real standard they call strict XML and only now in Office 2013 are they using it. The are also finally supporting OFD and PDF fully.

    I wonder why it would take them so long.

    see …
    http://www.zdnet.com/office-to-finally-fully-support-odf-open-xml-and-pdf-formats-7000002696/

  44. OFD wrote:

    “Interesting about the SSD; I will be in a position soon to choose what kinda hard drive I’m gonna throw into a machine at home. What about the stuff I hear about them just crapping out suddenly with no warning whatsoever?”

    My newest PC died after about a year. It had a 56 GB SSD. Took it in to the guy who built it, he said that SSDs do that after a while, you need to run TRIM on a regular basis. He fixed it up without ill effect.

    That was my gaming PC, and I never particularly noticed a great improvement in performance over a rotating HDD. YMMV.

  45. he said that SSDs do that after a while, you need to run TRIM on a regular basis

    I call bullshit on SSDs failing after awhile. The drives get slow if TRIM is not used, but they don’t just fail. Also TRIM is native to Windows 7 and up and I also suspect TRIM is supported in the lasted Linux distro of the day. TRIM does nothing to the drive except return unused space to the controller for the disk drive. You can do a google search and find out about the TRIM function.

    I noticed substantial speed increases when loading applications or access files. Your game may not be accessing the disk drive much and thus would not benefit much from the speed increase. The load times of the game would be substantially better.

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