Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bella under the desk

Both my dogs, but especially Bella like to lie under my desk when I'm sitting here. I don't mind, except that they will typically lie right in the middle, exactly where I want to put my feet.

I liked the sweater, except the brown thread that was part of the design kept coming undone leaving holes. I'd repaired a couple of holes, but finally gave up. As an experiment I put the sweater down where I would prefer that Bella lie. So far, it is working fairly well, with her choosing that location most of the time, and moving there with a gentle nudge the rest.


Last week when we had the first of the big snow, I made a big batch of ham and bean soup. Cooling it down is sometimes a problem--you don't want to leave it out long, but putting that much hot stuff in the freezer will thaw other food.

Fortunately with the snow, I didn't have a problem getting them cool this time.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sevesteen Jewels

I was going through my SD cards, and found this image of the watch that I took my nickname from--A fake Seiko 5.

People who buy fake Rolex often know what they are getting. Fake Seikos are another story. In much of Asia and the middle east, mechanical watches are still preferred by many, in part due to difficulty getting batteries. The Seiko 5 is a workhorse--reliable, rugged and relatively inexpensive compared to other mechanical watches of similar durability and accuracy. It isn't pretentious, and is at the low end of mechanical watch price, usually available on Ebay for around $70 shipped for a new one. (At the time, you could get one for around $45)

Fake Seikos have been around for quite a while. Early ones were fairly obvious--Handwind 1 jewel pinlever rather than 17-23 jewel automatic, obviously poor quality and were often distributed with brands like "ASEIKOR" with dial markings that could be erased--an unscrupulous seller would erase the first and last letters. If you ever see a "Swiss Seiko" it is probably one of these, with a cheap Swiss pinlever. These were often "Electra 360" and would sometimes have a "21" on the dial--suggesting but not promising 21 jewels.

Modern fakes are harder to detect--for this reason Seiko has gone to a glass back on the genuine Seiko 5, because a convincing movement is much harder to fake. Fakes may use a glass back, but compared with a real Seiko the differences are obvious.

Unfortunately I did not know any of this when I bought the watch pictured. The biggest clue was the almost galvanized look of the fake's movement--while Seikos are finished functionally rather than with the fine polish of a luxury watch, they are considerably more attractive than this. The uneven look of the stamped letters are another clue, as is the misspelling "sevesteen jewels", as well as the jewel count on the rotor being different than the claimed 21 jewels on the dial. Finally, the movement doesn't match any Seiko movement.

Someone buying this watch would be expecting the equivalent of a Japanese car, but instead would wind up with a Yugo with a nice paint job.

When I realized that I had been taken, I sold the watch with full disclosure--in fact, I described it as "purchased new from Maimaichinaman. I have doubts about its authenticity, but apparently Ebay believes these to be real, because they continue to allow them to be sold after several notifications". Later I was sorry I sold it, and bought a similar watch from one of Maimaichinaman's dissatisfied customers so I could take it apart and compare it with a real Seiko.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Google Chrome Web Browser

I've been using Google's Chrome web browser almost exclusively for a few weeks now, and I'm reasonably impressed.

The layout is slightly different--tabs are the topmost element, followed by the toolbar dominated by the address input area, and then the bookmarks toolbar. Visible controls are minimal compared to a stock Firefox but everything necessary is available either through the tools button or with a right click. Most things work well.

Spellcheck is awful, with some quite common words missing from the dictionary. The suggested replacement feature is the weakest I've seen in 10 years or so. For some reason opening a PDF just takes you to a blank page--to actually see the content you have to download the PDF. I've had one web page that Firefox loaded fine, but Chrome would load, then replace with a "Oh Snap" page.

One of the nice features is a task manager for the browser itself. Shift+Esc will bring up a window showing each Chrome process (each plugin and tab uses one process) with the memory and CPU usage for each. This is nice in my case, because Flash has been slightly unstable on my Ubuntu and hardware combination for the past few versions. losing sound after many hours. The task manager lets me kill just the flash process without affecting anything else.

On a netbook with a small screen, Chrome is a contender--the interface makes maximum use of real estate with few compromises. On a bigger screen, I think I still prefer Firefox by a small margin--that may change once Chrome is polished a bit more.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A walk in the woods

Quite a few people still haven't shoveled their walks, so the last couple days we have taken our dogs to nearby county parks.

I'm not sure what they smelled here, but they sure were interested  Lots of animal tracks in the area, primarily deer.

Angie going up the hill

The woods

I am guessing this is a Woodpecker feeding station.  Surprising how much wood a woodpecker can chuck....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Restaurant carry

There is a new bill going through the Ohio legislature that would allow those of us with concealed carry licenses to carry guns in restaurants that serve alcohol, as long as we do not drink.    Currently it is a felony to go armed where there is a liquor license and liquor is being served.  It is uncertain if beer counts as liquor.  There is no requirement that you know that they serve.   Most states have some provision for restaurant carry.

One of the people giving testimony in favor of allowing sober license holders to carry where other people might be drinking is a Tennessee woman whose husband was killed by her stalker.  At the time her gun was locked in her car because of a similar restriction.

A recent idiot not far from here, with a carry license not only carried his gun into a bar while drinking, not only managed to negligently discharge his gun IN the bar, but he shot his own girlfriend.  Luckily the gun was only a .32 caliber, and it hit the girlfriend's Blackberry.  The Blackberry was damaged, but the girlfriend only had a minor bruise.

I'm sure that the anti-gun people will use this to justify continuing the current ban.  However, even under the proposed law this idiocy would be illegal--He was drinking, which I am near certain was a significant contributing factor.   His story of the incident (somehow his sleeve set the gun off) isn't at all plausible.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Ipod toUch and Linux

One of the drawbacks of Linux is using it with an Ipod Touch or an Iphone.   There are stable utilities for older iPods, but the Touch and Iphone use a different system, and support is still somewhat experimental.  

I've finally got music and photos synching with GTKpod and libiphone.  Music is fine, easier than ituNes.  Getting pictures on the ipoD is slightly clumsy, but easier than making the iTunes on my wife's computer play nice with two separate accounts and finding a time when she isn't using it.   (Itunes does not understand user accounts on Windows--even though my ipod is set up under a different user account, I have to hold shift when launching to be able to select my ipod files, and remember to switch it back before my wife uses hers)

The other major issue is ebooks.  I use Stanza to read ebooks, and I now prefer reading on the iPod to reading a paper book.  My page is kept, I have one thing to keep track of, and it fits a huge library of books in my pocket.  Unfortunately the part of Stanza that loads your books isn't available on Linux, again requiring my wife's computer. 

The final piece for ebooks on Linux was Calibre.   Stanza on the ipOd has the capability to download directly from the web.  Calibre takes advantage of this and sets your computer to serve your books.   Another advantage to this is that the books are pulled onto the ipod, rather than pushed to it from the computer.  This means that one install of Calibre could serve many people without bothering the user of the computer.  

Calibre also converts to and from various document and ebook formats, so you can take a .pdf or .html file and turn it into a format your reader can use, although with some limits.  One of the limits is dealing with an original that is badly formatted.   Several of the books I downloaded had word wrap set so that on the ipod, I'd get a full line, half a line, then a blank line.  The original document had lines that were set to a fixed length longer than the ipod screen can display.  I fixed this by opening in Open Office, replacing all instances of two carriage returns in a row and replacing them with a ::::, then finding all remaining carriage returns and replacing them with two spaces.  Finally, replace all the :::: with a carriage return, and you now have sensible paragraphs that will wrap properly regardless of screen size.    Open Office can save in .rtf and HTML formats that Calibre can read. 

Unfortunately there is apparently a bug in Calibre's .rtf conversion that makes pages after the first one blank..  Oddly, this is one page, regardless of font size--Decreasing the font to something barely readable showed more text, but still a blank second page.  Saving as .html and using that to create the ebook solved that.  

A lot of work, but in the end worth the effort.  I now have plenty of reading material on my iPod, including quite a few Heinlein stories I haven't read in decades, and some I can't remember reading ever.  

Apple pork chops

Brown pork chops (ideally in a heavy iron skillet)

While the chops are browning, slice 3 apples and layer in a casserole dish big enough to handle the chops in a single layer.  Add 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 tablespoons melted butter.   Place the browned chops in a single layer, cover with foil, and bake at 400 for an hour.

The pork has a hint of apple flavor, and the apples are good served over the pork.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


Last night, the wet snow turned to light fluffy and drifting snow.  The dogs didn't like the deep parts.   I'm guessing we have about a foot or so--hard to tell because it is very drifted.   This is looking east down my sidewalk. 

Monday, February 01, 2010

Happy Farms Cheese

Occasionally we shop at Aldi.  Most of their canned and frozen stuff is good, bagged salads good, most fresh fruits and vegetables lousy.   Milk is usually closer to the sell-by date than other stores, and their selection is pretty limited.

I really like cheddar cheese, but I'm not at all picky about it--Store brand, major brand or gourmet are all about the same to me.  Except Happy Farms. one of Aldi's many house brands.  I had to check the ingredients--I was convinced they were using candle wax as a filler.

Apparently not.  They managed to get that nasty texture and lack of taste completely naturally.   We also had a block of Colby-Jack that was distressingly similar.