Tuesday, 19 August 2014

09:55 – Barbara and I are about halfway through the sixth and final season of Dawson’s Creek on Netflix streaming. If it were me, I’d have stopped watching after season four. I commented to Barbara at the start of season five that the series “felt” different, and that I didn’t like the changes. As we continued to watch season five, it became obvious that the writing had tanked, with stupid plotting, poor characterization, and inane dialog. With season six, it’s gotten even worse. Maybe the showrunner or head writer left after season four, or maybe they just ran out of ideas. If you’ve never seen Dawson’s Creek, I’d recommend watching it, but only the first four seasons. Then just pretend that they never made seasons five and six, which they shouldn’t have.

Another of our bottle-top dispensers died Sunday. Fortunately, I have an unused spare sitting on the shelf, because I sure don’t want to be without at least one working unit. These things are kind of like the pumps used to dispense toppings on sundaes, except they’re extremely accurate (~0.05 mL) and repeatable (~0.01 mL). To operate them, you simply pull up on the pump handle, place an empty bottle at the dispensing tip, and press down the pump handle.

They’re not cheap–$200 give or take, depending on the capacity–plus another $50 to $100 for the reservoir bottle, again depending on capacity. Here’s an image of one, not the model we use, but a similar one.

I dithered before I bought the first one because I wasn’t sure a BTD would really save much time, if any. But it does, trimming maybe 10 seconds from the fill time per bottle. That may not sound like much, but it adds up quickly if you’re filling hundreds of bottles in a session and tens of thousands per year.

The one that failed Sunday was the fourth failure. I’ll notify the vendor, who in the past has replaced each failed unit, but by now is probably getting tired of doing that. If so, it’s no big deal. I’ll order another unit today to become my hot spare. I think I got something close to 10,000 bottles filled with the failed unit, which means if I treat the BTD’s as consumables it costs me an extra $0.02 to fill a bottle. Or, another way of looking at it, that BTD saved me 100,000 seconds (about 28 hours) at a cost of about $7 per hour.

10:28 – As it turns out, I don’t need to order a spare. I just opened the box that I thought contained one spare unit. In fact, it contained two: one that the vendor had replaced under warranty and a second that I’d ordered and paid for.