Work

xrayspx's picture

Today In Donuts Annoying Me News

Music: 

Blur - Coffee and TV

For a couple years now, I've been telling Natalie that if I had a couple bucks and an inclination to build a thing or interact with people, I'd Do It Right. I'd make fresh donuts daily. If I worked at Red Arrow, I'd make the case that the absurd Milford, NH third shift should dedicate themselves to making bread for the rest of the day. Instead, they recently discontinued that shift.

So in that vein... I have a lot of music videos. To go with them, I've downloaded a bunch of '80s commercials for Nostalgia's Sake. Things like cereal, BMX bikes, Underoos, Schoolhouse Rock, and since you can guess I'm from the Boston market, Spags and Dunkin' Donuts.

At Spags, they'll save you money:

These old commercials, pre and post Fred, all tout the freshness of their product. It's the "Freshest you can buy". Then they stopped making donuts on site. There is no longer a fryer in the building at this point. I guess they nuke or salamander their croissant, bagel or muffin sandwich and formed eggs, I dunno they do something to make them hot, but none of this stuff could be mistaken for "fresh".

Sadly, I imagine that by and large, they were right. They /are/ the freshest donuts most people can get. Their 1980, Pre-Fred accusations that "most super markets donuts are made by machine" actually came about in my store in around 1994 or 1995. The day the woman* who fried and filled and decorated the donuts every day moved to Heath and Beauty Aids, which was coincidentally the day before /I/ learned to "make" donuts and muffins.

Muffins were from mix, + any other stuff like frozen blueberries, cinnamon apple chunks or cranberries or whatever else we'd mix in. Muffins were easy, but donuts were even easier. They came in frozen now, so all we did was heat 'em up, glaze them and put them out. We still glazed, filled, sugared, dipped them by hand, and the "baking" process wasn't that bad, they tasted fine, i guess. I never really ate them much. You tend not to want to eat muffins if you're covered in muffin mix for 5 hours every day. Now that I think of it, even though we were frying donuts daily, there's no way that wasn't just frozen dough that we bought in. Don't get the impression these were scratch-made, just rolled and fried on site. When I stopped making donuts and muffins, we had transitioned away form even making the muffins from mix, they now came in as frozen batter in muffin cups and plastic trays. We'd just move them to metal trays, bake 'em and serve 'em up. That was probably '95 or so at the latest.

The couple of times I've gone into Dunkin's (as it's now trying to rebrand itself officially) in the last 2 decades, I've come away with the impression that they don't even do that much anymore. I don't see that there's even room for a table to glaze and decorate anymore. Do donuts just come in all pre-filled and room temperature ready to put out? Like the Krispy Kremes at the convenience store?

There is still a good donut place in our town, but I imagine even they aren't actually scratch-making anything. It's just fresher than Dunkin's. Meanwhile I'm pretty sure the baker my parents went to in the '70s and '80s hand-made everything in his shop from scratch from donuts to birthday cakes.

* - Hey Millennials, here's some trivia: I remember the woman who made the donuts was about 23 or 24, and that she and her husband, who drove forklift as I recall, and with whom she owned a house, had managed to save enough in their water jug full of change to go on vacation in the Caribbean. Just sayin'.

xrayspx's picture

Antique Desk And Its Dazor Task Lamp

Music: 

This just made me unreasonably happy today, so I am gonna have to share it.

A couple of years ago we found an antique drafting table for pretty cheap money at a local shop, I think we maybe paid $200 or so for it. It had been used and taken very good care of for...80 years? Maybe more? It had a Kilroy on it. So we snatched it and replaced Natalie's less beautiful portable drafting table with it. It's a real monster, like 48" x 36", and great shape, well built, though it does have quite a twist to it. It'll last Natalie forever.

Since then, one problem she's had was getting an adequate task light. She had a plastic fluorescent arm-light, but it was nowhere near long enough to cover the new desk. And, you know face it, it looked like junk.

So the other day we were in another local consignment shop and I spotted a monster arm-light for $25. Natalie didn't like the look of the fact that it was fluorescent (will we be able to get bulbs...) and wasn't sure about the mount, since it didn't clamp, it looked like it screws to the desk. As is my way, I needled her for a couple days and let it work on her that she needed to check it out. No one's gonna stop making fluorescent bulbs, and even if they do, so we get an LED adapter, or just rewire it all the way to the plug for LED. Today she went back and grabbed it, and score, it was on sale, now $18.

We hadn't really looked at it, but turns out it's a Dazor from 1950. As we were trying to figure out how this was supposed to attach (none of the hardware was there), I figured we could get a couple of set screws with wingnuts and big ass washers, drill the desk (Natalie was not a fan), and just bolt it in.

So she started measuring up the distance between the screws, and found that they exactly matched the existing holes someone had already drilled in the desk. We were just re-uniting the drafting table with it's long-lost lamp!

The table top had to be turned around so the holes were at the back, so that was an hour well spent, but it all lined up and she dropped right in. Now it's at that point that I thought it was too cool and started writing this post. However, interesting bit of trivia, Dazor was founded by Harry Dazey, of the Dazey Churn and Manufacturing company in St. Louis. We happen to have a good-size collection of Dazey ice crushers, a can opener, and one of what's probably a small handful of portable stands that are left in existence. This makes Natalie super happy, because we've completed the Dazey set finally.

So here we are, desk, lamp, and ice crusher:

The thing that impresses me the most about this is that in the spare parts section on Dazor's site they list all the various switches and ballasts so you can repair your lamps. Not only are ours still fully in stock, but they've only got 7 listed switches and 5 ballasts, which I'm sure cover virtually every product they've ever made. Simplicity and rugged construction = happy customers forever.

Not only were these lamps built to outlive your granddad, and they did, obviously, but you can still get parts for 'em if they ever do let the magic smoke out! Right from the manufacturer. Try that with literally any other product, especially now. Man. I mean, I get that if you make a lamp, and that lamp lasts forever, then you never sell another one to that customer, and your company dies. But the other side of that coin is that you end up the standard in task lighting, forever, with multi-generational product loyalty.

We'll probably end up buying brand new Dazor lamps for spaces like our office workbench once it's built, and I fully expect them to last just as well as this one clearly has.

xrayspx's picture

Roadside America

Music: 

Natalie and I are on a kind of meta-road trip. We're not actually going to see The Thing, but we're seeing the roadside attractions which have sprung up around The Thing to amuse and draw in visitors.

Today we went to Roadside America, which is a massive O gauge model railroad layout. 6000 feet, assembled over 60 years of one Laurence Gieringer's life, from when he was 9 until he died.

Natalie took tons of photos, but I put up 3 short videos covering about 15% or so, along one short edge:

Mine, mountains, farms:

The zoo:

Midcentury Downtown:

xrayspx's picture

My Life Is Going To Suck Without Net Neutrality

Music: 

There are so many things I do which are likely to suffer with Net Neutrality's loss.

I run my own mail, web and cloud sharing services on a VPS that I maintain. Owncloud syncs all my devices, I use IMAP and webmail. I also run lots of "consumer" stuff for myself. I own 2500 CDs which I've ripped and share for my own personal use. I have playlists. I can connect with DAAP from my phone, and listen to my own CD collection, music I have paid for, Spotify style. I know people are saying "Spotify will work just fine", but what if I don't want to use Spotify?

This is all encrypted, personal connections. Nothing illegal is happening here. I'm not filesharing or streaming Torrents or any other grey-area services. It's just all my personal stuff, owned and manually copied myself, sharing to myself. No one gets ripped off here.

I can plug my Amazon Fire stick or Raspberry Pi into any TV and use Kodi to stream my own MP3s or movies, etc. I can use it to watch Amazon Prime or Netflix as well. Kodi also has a wealth of plugins to watch content from sources such as the PBS website. We all can watch Nova, or Julia Child, or even Antiques Roadshow over the Internet, for free, legally. This may all suffer when backbone providers and local ISPs can both decide which packets have priority over other traffic. PBS could be QOS'd out of the budgets of millions.

(Note *)I don't own a Nest or any other IOT garbage, but I have toyed with the idea of building my own, running on infrastructure I build. I don't want Google to know what temperature my house is right now. And I don't want some mass hack of 500 Million Nest users or idiot IOT Lightbulbs to let some Romanian turn my furnace off in the middle of February either.

So yeah, losing Net Neutrality could effectively disable all of this. Small hosts like me could be QoS'd off of the Internet entirely, unless we pay extra /at both ends/. Pay my hosting provider to pay their backbone providers to QoS my address at a decent speed. Then pay my consumer ISP to QoS my traffic so I can reach "The Good Internet", like they have do in Portugal.

This is going to cut my lifeline to my own data, hosted by me on my own machines. Am I going to have to pay an additional "Get Decent Internet Access Beyond Google, Spotify, Facebook and Twitter" fee to the Hampton Inn just so we don't get QoS'd away from our own stuff? It's bad enough that the individual hotel can effectively do this already today, but the hotels are at least limited by the fact that they're in competition with each other and if they have ridiculously shitty Internet that you can't check your mail over, well people would notice that. Backbone providers pretty much have no such direct consumer accountability. No one's going to say "well, fuck that I'm not going to route over AT&T anymore", they might say "Hilton has shitty Internet, I'm going to Marriott".

Some of the most demoralizing part of this is that the rule-makers just don't get it. I already know they don't care, but former FCC Chair Michael Powell's statement, which boils down to "You can still use Facebook, (Amazon) Alexa, Google and Instagram, just like you can now" is missing the point either deliberately or purposefully. That most "consumers" will be fine isn't the point. The point is that everyone be equal, and all traffic be routed equally.

* The risk to my information is proportional to the value an attacker places on the information. Could a state actor target my email server and read my mail? Yeah, the Equation Group or Fancy Bear or some Eastern European ID theft ring could probably exploit some flaw in whatever software serves my VPS, or flat out order the ISP to give them access to my stuff, but why? What does the NSA gain by ransacking my mail server? Not much. How about criminal attackers? However they /would/ expose 1.5 Billion Yahoo accounts all at once, and have that entire corpus of mail to search against, plus passwords they could use to try and attack everyone's bank account all at once.

xrayspx's picture

Kitchen Designs

Music: 

Van Halen - Panama

As anyone who reads Natalie's site, or who has been around either of us for more than five minutes in the last six months will know, we've been in the middle of a kitchen renovation for...way, way too long now. Since I did the actual layout design (twice) Natalie asked that I write up how that process went and how we progressed from the original layout, through to what we've got now.

The original kitchen layout was less than ideal in many key ways. It was basically a galley kitchen which acted as a footpath from a hallway at one end where there was an external door, a restroom, and our living room through to the dining room and the main part of the house (office, library, bedrooms). This split the workflow of the kitchen between the "sink side" where the doors were and the "stove side". In amongst that were afterthoughts like "oh hey someone should put a fridge here" or "who wants a laundromat?". It wasn't great.

One of the biggest problems was that these two opposing doors weren't lined up. The dining room side door was a good 30" from the wall, which gave enough space for the countertop, even though the end of the counter did intrude into the door trim an inch or so. The other door however was maybe 20" or so from the wall, meaning that if you ran countertop right to the end of the room, you'd be intruding 5" or so into the door opening.

This is illustrated in this rough sketch of the beginning state and a couple of photos:

Since my imagination is limited, I originally planned our new layout based on the layout as we had it here. This means that to get to the (newly finished) breakfast and laundry area one would go out that hallway-side door, then out what used to be the exterior door into what used to be the porch to eat breakfast or wash clothes.

Thus the new design ended up looking like this, around three walls, with the left-hand side wall still being entirely blank, since there was a fridge and doorway there. We figured we'd put posters there like we had in the past:

Sink Side (top of the above image):

Dining Room Side:

"Stove Side":

You get a sense for how conventional my thinking was, to the point of comically over-engineering to try and shoehorn as much crap as we could in the same space. The awkward doorway was rather elegantly handled by the fact that that tall-ass broom closet (21" wide full-height cabinet in the diagram) is only 15" deep, so it would give nearly two feet between the door and where that lazy susan, with its 45 degree angled door would "guide" you into the room, helpfully saving the reproductive organs of any guy who staggers through that door without really looking.

But what a mess. Take the refrigerator. We knew that any fridge we bought in the Shiny New Future was going to be much wider than the 29.5" GE Home Depot special we had, so I had to plan for that with spacers that could be removed, or custom cabinetry that could be ripped out when we bought a new one. And all the cramming in of bookshelf space wherever we could fit it. And that half-height cabinet above the fridge slammed all the way to the ceiling, ugh. It was just forced.

At some point around the fourth or fifth sink we decided on, I could no longer shoehorn it into this design. We were wavering between a fully integrated Elkay with a built in steel backsplash and countertop, and the one we ultimately got, which is a more conventional, but still huge (FIFTY FOUR INCHES FUCK YEAH!) drop-in with left and right side drainboards. This simply blew my model all to hell. I spent a few days in Omnigraffle screwing around to make space for that full-countertop monster. At a basic level the problem was that the full steel countertop sink had to line up directly to the edge of a Youngstown cabinet on both sides, since it couldn't really overhang them. Everything under that sink would then need to be custom carpentry.

I had to find a third way. So I completely changed my outlook. That doorway is annoying me and is going to cause me to lose a testicle? GET RID OF THE DOORWAY. We're taking the thing down to studs anyway. Put the fridge there, where it will be convenient and out of the way. Let's make a huge (45 inch) entryway from that breakfast area, which will also let light flood in from the massive window out there.

So what we ended up with is a far superior layout both for foot traffic flow, and for kitchen workflow. We changed the layout from a "Galley" style kitchen to a more traditional 3-sided model with entrances to the breakfast area on one side and the dining room on the other. It adds a slight zig-zag to get to the living room & restroom, but it's really, really minimal.

That plan looks more like this, with the walls in the same order, starting at what used to be the sink area.

Here's the top-down:

Dining-room facing:

Sink wall:

As you can see, we /did/ save the front of that sink:

Stove wall:

As you can see from the photos, our contractor and his subs have done a phenomenal job of executing this design. It's exactly as we envisioned it from day one, and we couldn't be happier with their work. Stay tuned for the "Complete" complete photos which I'm sure will be coming shortly on Natalie's site.

Throughout this process Natalie and I have had slightly different goals. She wants the Ultimate Vintage Kitchen, which, I think we can all agree on, has been achieved. I wanted to see how close I could get to having a professional quality and ergonomically correct and functional space. I think we've ultimately achieved that as well with an industrial quality sink and faucet fixture, but which fit perfectly into the retro aesthetic we wanted. It just took a mental break on my part to force the pieces together.

If anyone needs them, I'll update when I've posted the set of Omnigraffle stencils I whacked up to fit all this stuff together. They are proportionally correct to each other, and there are some in the stencils which didn't ultimately make it into the room, since they are "cabinets we own", but we just couldn't jam any more crap in there :-) If anyone can figure out a good way to represent these crazy corner cabinets and lazy susans in 2D I would very much appreciate your input. It's not like I live with a goddamn graphic designer or anything.

xrayspx's picture

You know what, no, they don't

Music: 

Because if people could remember what 100 years ago Earth was like, they'd know that the best things to happen in the last 100 years are based around the idea that if we all work together, then when we're old, we will take care of each other. And when we're young, rather than work like adults, we will teach our children with the collective knowledge of our species so we can continue to advance. We can afford to take care of those who can't work like the rest. Too much of the time, we choose not to take care of those people.

xrayspx's picture

Do people really not understand how good things are?

Music: 

One thing which has bothered me as much as anything about the right wing populist uprising this year is that if people could even remember to 100 short years ago, literally zero of what they see as their daily life to which they're entitled even existed.

xrayspx's picture

Why use any specific OS?

Music: 

I was reading this Slashdot post about "why use linux" and pointing out all the good things we have.

But really the question applies to pretty much any OS now. A huge percentage of users could be told "you're using X at work" (well, not X, like a variable, $X) and they'd adapt, begin to prefer whatever OS, and buy it for their home computers. [I'm sure Linux would accelerate /fast/ in the case that a couple of major companies start deploying to the desktop (this is gonna be the year...).]


Macs

I own 3 Macs, but I'm as or more at home in Linux on the desktop (I didn't "switch" from Windows, I switched from Linux, by accident, and I stand by those words today). I only really use Free Software, even on the Macs, save for a couple of things to be addressed below... When I set up a Mac, the stuff I always set up is:

Chrome
LibreOffice
GIMP
Adium
Firefox
OpenEMU
iTerm
OwnCloud sync client

And that's about it, and you can run 37% of that functionality on any platform, subbing Pidgin and excluding a decent shell on some platforms (Cygwin doesn't count), which is weighted at 62% of the total functionality of any computer I use.

I use iTunes, Mail.App, and Photos, (which is loathsome), as well as calendaring and contacts, so not all Free Software, but I guess I use "Apple Software and Free Software" when on the Mac, but that's mainly because of aesthetics, not any functional advantage they may or may not have over Free alternatives. Mail.app looks nice, iTunes looks nice, it's nearly impossible to run Amarok on OSX, at least the last time I tried, they integrate well with their OS, etc. However we must be able to run things like Adobe software, and OmniGraffle. I'd hate my job without OmniGraffle.


Linux

On Linux, I can do a handful of small things I can't do on OSX, and the same thing the other way 'round. But I set everything up exactly the same. I prefer the OSX Keychain Encrypted Notes function over my GPG encrypted files, but just because it's smoother. OSX has improved in handling multiple monitors over the past few years, and KDE, and X in general, has gotten much worse at it. I like to have multiple screens, with multiple virtual desktops, and when I change virtual desktops, I want only that physical screen space to change. So I have Enlightenment. Easy (enough) and gorgeous, and all kinds of customizable.

Other things are a massive pain, Juniper SSL VPN with a requirement for 32-bit Java and Firefox. Come on everyone... But it works, and I use it day to day. It just took a month to get the machine set up the way I like, and it takes some upkeep when some package gets updated that breaks that arrangement. But it's never been a showstopper, because I'm a professional.

However, even for any non-professional, there are major cases for Linux:

Linux runs my home theatre, which boots to Kodi so I can stream TV and movies from our collection of ripped DVDs, watch online streams from the major networks, PBS, Archive, etc*. Chrome so we can watch local news, use Amazon and Hulu and stuff, and browse seamlessly through emulators for any game I care to play through N64/PS1 era. All controlled by the TV Remote (within Kodi) or any Android tablet or no-provider obsolete shitphone (With KDE Connect, Yay for KDE Connect!). Haven't touched the wireless keyboard in at least a month.

This is all doable on a $35 Raspberry Pi 3 right now. I know that part because of the video game cabinet which is on the horizon and which does exactly all this stuff, including Wipeout XL PS1 Games. I'm sure we will be doing build blogs on that.


Windows

So what about Windows? Not for my specific use cases, but why should anyone care who isn't old and curmudgeonly? I carry grudges maintain baggage from 20 years ago.

I hear there's transparency now kind of, and virtual desktops are finally a thing baked into the OS, but every time I log into my Windows 10 VM at work, I am infuriated by it, so why should I bother? Windows can suck it. That's all I know. I'm happy enough to do server admin of Windows servers, I don't much care either way whether I'm adminning Windows or Linux at the end of the day.

Desktop OS? No dice. How times change.

* Side Note: Please do not buy one of those "pre-built pirate box" Pi's with Kodi and a bunch of janky, buggy, potentially insecure plugins pre-installed. Kodi has very strong feelings about that, and I agree with them on the point that regular people who think this is going to be better than an Amazon Fire stick with Free TV streaming are going to:

A) Be disappointed
B) Bring awful attention to a fantastic project by unfairly associating them with and implying their endorsement of piracy and copyright infringement.
C) Could be setting themselves up to get owned by pre-installed botnets or whatever other backdoor/sniffer/malware nightmare scenario, I can't even imagine buying one of these...

People are of course going to download and use those plugins, but should know what they're doing, not blame Kodi for any fallout, and most importantly should not give money to thieves and scam artists, because that's dumb.

xrayspx's picture

Name your vulns better

Music: 

George Clinton - Yank My Doodle

Drupalgeddon is silly, but at least it gets the point across that something is wrong and you must go fix it right now. Heartbleed, Shellshock, POODLE... not so much. At least we all had a heads-up that "some horrible SSLv3 attack" was coming even if no one knew specifics.

We've had enough this year already. Who wants a do-over on 2014?

xrayspx's picture

GoFlex Headaches

Music: 

click-click-click-bzzzzzzzzzzzz-WHACK

A couple of weeks ago the drive in my GoFlex home finally died. It had had some filesystem corruption earlier this year, so I pretty much knew it was coming. I replaced the drive, and started making rash decisions. All the stupid factory junk software is disabled, but the big change was that I formatted New Drive with EXT3, since they were using NTFS (on Linux) for some unholy reason that I will probably never understand.

Well, now the drive seems not to sleep, and the drive LED blinks continuously. It doesn't vary at all, so I'm not convinced it's activity related, but there's also no LSOF on the machine, so I'm a tiny bit blind. I think a lot of the issue with Old Drive was that I was writing syslog to it from all my local hardware, which prevented it from ever spinning down. I'd like to prevent that with New Drive by sending all my shit to a Raspberry Pi instead (Raspberry Pi runs extremely well off the USB port from the GoFlex, and it also does a great job of running Privoxy).

I'm looking at ps and netstat -pnat output, and don't see anything which should necessarily be slamming the drive. Meanwhile, I need to go find an ARM lsof binary I can drop on this thing.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Work