Tuesday, 25 June 2013

09:44 – Cops consider eyewitness identifications suspect, and particularly suspect if the man in question has a beard. Here’s a good example of why. When I saw the front page of the newspaper this morning, my first thought was, “Why is there a picture of my friend Paul Jones on the front page?” When I showed it to Barbara, she also thought it was Paul.

It’s not Paul, of course, but it sure looks like him. If I’d seen the picture without having the caption for context, it wouldn’t even have crossed my mind that it wasn’t Paul.

I just shipped a forensic science kit this morning, and realized that I’m down to only two remaining in stock. Urk. I’d been working on chemistry kits, but it’s time to build a batch of 30 more forensic science kits.

15:47 – I’m filling glycerol bottles. Very slowly. They’re 15 mL narrow-mouth bottles, the same ones we use by the thousands for other solutions. But glycerol is very viscous. So much so that it’s almost impossible to fill these bottles manually from a beaker or whatever, because the glycerol tends to form a bubble on the mouth of the bottle and then glop over down the side. The last time I filled glycerol bottles, I used my automatic dispenser pump, figuring things would go a lot faster. They didn’t, because it takes so long to fill and empty the dispenser for each bottle. With normal solutions, a quick upstroke fills the cavity and a quick downstroke pumps the liquid into the bottle. It takes maybe three or fours seconds total for each bottle, including handling. But glycerol is so viscous that the upstroke and downstroke take literally 20 seconds or more each.

So I had a cunning plan. Glycerol viscosity varies with temperature. At about 18C (chilly room temperature), glycerol freezes, so when I’m filling bottles at, say, 24C, the glycerol isn’t far above its freezing temperature and is still quite syrupy. But I had Barbara label 150 15 mL bottles for me anyway because I was convinced I had a solution for the problem. I was going to warm the glycerol up to 50 or 55C (hot tap water temperature), where I expected it to run almost like water. Alas, I must have read the temperature/viscosity chart wrong, because even at 50+C this glycerol is still quite thick. I think I’ll boost the water bath temperature up to maybe 60C and see if that helps. I don’t want to go much higher, both because I’m handling the bottles with bare hands and because I’m afraid that capping warm bottles will cause them to deform as the air within them cools and contracts.

I thought about changing to 30 mL narrow-mouth bottles for the next batch, even though I’d still fill them only to 15 mL. But then I had a better idea. I’m going to use 30 mL wide-mouth pharma packer bottles next time and fill them manually from a beaker. 15 mL of glycerol masses just under 19 g, so I’ll just eyeball the fill level and have Barbara sitting next to me with a scale. Anything at 19 g or more, she’ll just cap. Under 19 g, she’ll give it back to me to add more. That should be about as fast as using the dispenser to fill bottles with normal solutions.

I mentioned last week that I’d ordered a Cyber-Power desktop PC from Costco. It arrived today. I plan to get it set up this weekend for Frances and Al. The problem is, it runs Windows 8, which I’ve never even seen. The PC included a “free” download init key for Kaspersky Internet Security 2013, but I have no idea if I should install this or something else. Doesn’t Microsoft include its own security/AV package? Please, Windows Gurus, tell me what to do. Frances does pretty typical stuff with her PC: email (Thunderbird), web browsing (Firefox), Skype, and so on, so installing apps shouldn’t be a problem. But this is Windows 8 (rather than 8.1), which IIRC has a sucky interface, missing even the Start button. Is there an option to use the Windows 7 interface? What should I do? Help.