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Journal Journal: Chronicle: Friend asked me to sell a few blades and comics

A friend of mine moved to another country and asked that a friend and i sell a sword, some knives, and a bunch of comic books for him, basically all in very good to excellent condition. We agreed, i waited, the friend never came through. So now, on a whim, i decided i had to take care of this already. While ebay shows me prices, it can be misleading and discouraging. So, i'm treading slowly.

Of the 4 knives, i'm not sure one of them is legal in my state. The other 3 seem fine:

The Crusader sword was made by Ye Silver Castle and comes with papers describing it and the like. It cost over $1000.

The comics include Spawn Book 1 (iirc, all the way through book 12, i have not inventories the comics yet, and there's quite a bunch), Superman, and other comics from the 90s. They all look like they were handled carefully.

But how do i sell these? On ebay, each of these have many that sell and many that do not, with prices varying all over the place. Further, are there any laws that apply to the blades? This is someone else's stuff, and although i've been lazy, i want to get him as much as he can get, or at least make a best effort to do so. How do you go about this?


Side note: Text formatted does not like <UL> lists. Sheesh! Had to HTML format this. Why do they insist on breaking things here?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Amazon Reviews: Zero Germ UV Light Toothbrush Sanitizer

So, a friend brought by an old bag of woot and gave me three head/arm bands? After being silly i accepted the Zero Germ UV Light Toothbrush Sanitizer.

Of course, first thing to do is to read the Amazon reviews. This one says it's cheap, this one (in the comments on the review) says wet and smelly, but this one says he tested it in a petri dish and it works as advertised.

True, not true, who knows? I just love these comments.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: A little kayaking

On Sunday, i wanted to go kayaking at Kensington Metropark, which i've done in the past. I aimed to leave at 3 with a friend for the 20 minute drive, but we got there after 5. Regardless, they weren't renting boats due to high winds. So, off we went to Heavner Canoe & Kayak Rental, instead, which was on the way, and he had wanted to go to anyway. Specifically, Heavner is a route, we you go and come back or can be picked up. Kensington's Kent lake is just that, a lake.

We got there just after 6 and waited in line for a a few minutes. While that was going on, we reviewed prices and i used the outhouse for a moment. Unlike Kensington which has regular restrooms, Heavner has what seemed to be a plywood shack housing a toilet covering a hole in the ground. Nothing like the good outdoors. There was a man outside waiting for his son, making me comment "oh, there's a line," to which he responded, "there's always a line." At which point his son came out and they both left. After a minute or so, someone else tried the locked door and kept banging. I told him just a moment, and when i came out he apologized. I don't understand people.

Sticker shock then hit. At Kensington, it's $8/hour for a kayak, or $9 for a 2 person. At Heavner, all boats were $24/hour. We had about 45 minutes, so we took a 2 person kayak, knowing full well it'd be hard.

We must've pushed off at about 6:15, though in my mind it was still 6. We took a short oar and i long oar, i took front, as he is better than me, so him seeing me seemed better. It was a disaster. We splashed ourselves, we hit oars, we switched oars, we kept drifting and were unable to control it properly. The short oar was a really bad idea. We tried this and that, and finally got to the overpass. Ahead of us some people were swimming, and although it may have been fun, i decided to turn around. The time was 6:30, so in my mind, about a half hour, and i didn't want to perform so poorly with so many onlookers. We turned around and made it back at 6:45.

He was soaked, though not from me. I was wet, but not as much as he was. He made a comment to the person pulling us in how he couldn't get any wetter, or the like. To which he responded something between "oh yeah?" and "wanna see?". It was half funny. Anyway, we returned the oars and life jackets, came up front to pay. Another guy was there, who looked at the paper and expressed surprise over us only being out for 15 minutes. I told him it was more like a half hour, this wasn't our original destination, and i had to leave at 7. Although they do not charge for half hours, they do it anyway, but he was confused and asked me if he just charge the full hour anyway. I said sure, i paid and we left. On the way home, the usual 7:55 meeting was canceled. Whatever.

Some people there talked about having a coupon, and i saw there was some restrictions. A search finds them, but there is warning of knowing what it actually covers.

Overall, i had fun, even if it was for just a few minutes. I'm still debating whether it's worth paying 3 times as much to have a path to follow. But 2 kayaks next time. Definitely, 2 kayaks.

User Journal

Journal Journal: GreaseMonkey scripts 6

I've been making use of GreaseMonkey for some time now. I found some scripts that i lie, namely Allow Password Remembering, Block youtube users, and Google Hit Hider by Domain. I've added a few of my own, Displaying Monk Levels and Checking Saint in our Book for ties, both for PerlMonks and now, Amazon Star percent to number.

I love Amazon Reviews, and those stars mean a lot to me. However, Amazon, in their great wisdom, decided to replace the useful numbers with useless percentages. Well, not useless, but compared to actual numbers, percents mean next to nothing. Who cares if 100% 5-star it, if that's only one person. I'd rather purchase a product with 80% 5-stars, but by a few hundred people. Sure, the number is on top, but who wants to do the math all the time?

To grab the number, the reviews page would have to be loaded for each star. So, i just did multiplication, which will be close enough. I guess the reviews page can get the actual number as opposed to multiplying, but this is good enough, and since it can be the same as the main product page which i did first, i'm not interested in putting in the effort to change it for the reviews page.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Had a problem conceptualizing recusion in Java

I'm reading Java: A Beginner's Guide by Herbert Schildt. Schildt really is good. The lessons are smooth, with small complete examples of everything, explanations, and learning in steps, that is, each chapter builds on what was learned in the past. It's not just a bunch of concepts thrown together.. Here's one case where the O'reilly book just didn't do the job. It was good, but not for learning (reviewing, perhaps.)

I'm typing in every example, skipping the comments though. Also, changing names when they use plurals. An array should be named num, not nums, because each member is an instance of a num. It acts as a collections of nums, but it is not what it is. It's the J/P thing again. In databases, which is J territory, it should clearly be singular. Each record is an instance of the singular object (table.) And, people who think of tables in the plural often come up with terrible deigns and write horrible queries. Their using the database to support a specific process (which always changes, anyway) and not to hold data. They never learn. But i digress. Programs are about getting something done, so, it is more likely it should be named in the plural. I guess i'm in the wrong here. Though, as my code is for me (as opposed to if i was on a team), i'm going to follow my own preference.

In the Self Test for Chapter 6, question 6 is: Write a recursive method that displays the contents of a string backwards. I hit a mental block with that yesterday and just couldn't get it right. I was amazed (read: horrified) that such a small thing could be so hard. I ought to be able to (know what i need to do to) write that in seconds. After some fumbling over char vs String, it was time to go home. Today i approached the code and fixed it in just a few minutes.

class test06
  static String backward(String a)
    if(a.length() == 1) return a;

    return a.substring(a.length() - 1) + backward(a.substring(0, a.length() - 1));

  public static void main(String arg[])

When i first got the question, i misunderstood it. I saw his answer and realized i misread it, so i tried this. Compared to his answer, he cheats. He used .charAt() to print out one char at a time from within the method. Granted, the book does that at this point, but this one is truer. And, i need something to be proud about.

But why did it take me so long? At first, i assumed its because i'm not used to Java, recursion is silly in this case, and i don't usually do recursion. But that's not true. I had a problem conceptualizing it, its effective, and i do it occasionally in SQL. But there's the answer. I do it in SQL.

Recursive CTEs are a pain. While more versatile than Oracle's hierarchical queries (which have a number of their own benefits), they are also confusing to learn. At some point it clicks though, and then its just a matter of keeping things straight in your head. However, in SQL's recursion the inner most level is also the final level. Outside of SQL, the opposite is true.

It's convenient to have blame it on SQL, though i know it's not true. Embarrassing as it is, i hit a mental block on the concept. Nonetheless, SQL likely had something to do with my confusion. I love these "easy" tests.

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Journal Journal: Rant: Why i hate Java (simple, old debate) 4

Why do i hate Java? (And C too.) retardedNames, case sensitivity, offsets treated like indexes. These are examples of where programmers had good ideas but then unfortunately designed them into a language.

0 is not a number. A number represents a quantity and 0 is not a quantity. You don't declare an array less one because 0 is a number. However, it is treated as a number for convenience. Why then refer to an index in an array with 0 first? Okay, okay, i know. It's because the variable is just a pointer, and the index is really an offset. So then why use an offset to index an array? Seriously. In how many cases do you treat the offset as an index. And in how many do you treat it like an offset? I thought so.

Then there's the whole = vs ==. Debate over whether = should set or compare is understandable. Personally, i would never have used = to set, because most people use it to demonstrate equality. Not to test it, but to demonstrate it. As in any math equation we teach children. With that in mind, i would think it was more likely to be used to test equality rather than set it. Furthermore, pick the odd operator out: =, +=, -=, *=, /=. ^=. Yeah, yeah, those are for convenience. But how many times have you mistaken the double-character operator for anything else. Yes, but they have another operator that makes it obvious. Exactly. Isn't == obviously setting without an operation. x += y adds y to x then sets. x -= y subtracts y from x then sets. So, x == y should equal y to x then set. Slightly bumpy because it sets x to y and not vice versa, but its really easy to understand. And, earlier languages did it with :=. Same thing.

BASIC used = for both. Noone used LET outside of teaching. Regardless, context defined it anyway. Context is not available in Java because it allows you do do nifty things like increment an array offset while setting it. So, no context. Of course, this leads to bugs and the niftiness is often considered bad practice, but isn't it cool that we can do it?

I've seen absolute morons coding in BASIC. But never once had i seen them use = to do what they didn't intend. You know why? Because its impossible! Context rules. On the same note, i've read about talented programmers who made the mistake in C(++).

Prefix and postfix ++ and -- are a little different. They are not obvious (until you know what they do), and other than errors in logic, they are used as intended. They break context, per se, but that is what they are designed to do. Applying this to the poor = sign is just plain ridiculous.

Seriously, why are these things done when they are counterintuitive, prone to bugs, and bad practice? Were the designers brain dead, or just 31337 h4x0rz that hadn't grown up yet? Or, is everyone so blind to this because they never made this mistake.

Okay, the languages weren't designed inasmuch as they just ended up being used. But why? Was it because the pros outweighed the cons? Or was it because programmers actually like this nonsense?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Yesterday's bike ride

Rode my bicycle yesterday for exercise, with intent to go to Meijers (The name, Meijer's Thrifty Acres, which people colloquial called "Meijers". The name has changed, removing the need for the possessive "s." Kids and sticklers now use the new name.) I did go there, stopping off at the Royal Oak Post Office en route.

The post office is a nice one. I used to have a PO Box there. They've since added inner doors to replace the gate locked at nighttime. The doors look nicer when closed, i guess, but also makes it look more office-like during regular business hours. The bike stand/rock was missing outside, so i used the railing on the accessibility ramp. It goes around like a hairpin, but gets more narrow in middle of the second half. Well, if whoever uses it can use the more narrow part, using the side of the excess shouldn't be an issue, should it?

Anyway, they're slow, but what government office isn't? When the guy two in front of me went up (without being called, to wait for the returning clerk, who asked if he was actually next when she came back) the guy in front of me went moved up. The line at the office is not straight. There is the counter and an open area for standing and leaving, then an island with a flat top and forms on the side. The line forms on the other side of the island and around the bend, where people usually wait to be called. So, both people in front of me were facing perpendicular to the direction i was facing. When two-in-front went up, one-in-front walked forward. I turn and got behind him, and he moved up just a little further. Obviously, he wanted room. So be it. I figured he might not kike Jews, so i didn't stare at him either. That is, i made sure to look away from him. He did his business and left. I needed only a minute, so i was out relatively quickly.

As i was beginning to ride away on my bike, he commented (while unlocking his car?) to me, "I never saw a rabbi on a bike before." I smiled and kept on riding. I still don't know what he meant by the statement or why he considered me a rabbi. Mayhap, he doesn't get out much. :)

Before i even got to Meijers, i was pooped, and realized i really needed the break before i could ride home. The stop at the post office elongated my trip more than expected, and i wasn't ready for that much exertion this summer, yet. I took my time in the store, including checking out the Italian section, and getting Turkish sun dried tomatoes. I may go back and grab some of the Pomi products (they had two, iirc) to see if they are that good.

On my way home, i evoked the same responses as usual. People stare at me biking. I think people stare at all bikers, or better put, intruders on their domain. Anyway, as i was riding down one street, i saw two boys playing a couple(?) blocks ahead. The first went inside. Seemed normal. I don't know if he saw me or not. The second saw me and ran inside too. Nope, not inside. As i passed by, i saw him hiding behind a bush. Did he think i might curse him or was he just afraid or shy? I wish could go back and ask. Or maybe watch a video online with comments. Hmm... bike cam, anyone? :)

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Journal Journal: Chronicle: Warm office, but what can i do? (2) 2

Well, two ladies came by in response to the request, at least one of which looked like she was dressed for dinner. I ignored them when they first walked by until they specifically asked for my attention. I had no idea that was normal business attire and really didn't think they were there for me.

Well, they have no half walls and no wall would make the desk fall down. I said i'd be willing to give up that part of the desk, but it didn't look like that was an option. We discussed the closed vent and i mentioned that it bothered other people in the past and i didn't want to bother them now. As they continued questioning, my neighbor piped in with her past experience. Finally, they suggested they would have an engineer look at the vent. I tried making a joke by telling them they could attach a pipe to the vent and put it down my back (which wouldn't bother anyone else...) One of them forced a small giggle. I don't even need retrospect to realize it was poorly timed. My mistake was to not appreciate that no comment is better than a bad one.

As they spoke i realized the were standing and i was sitting. Not being their superior, etiquette would demand that i stand, and stand i did. It's not something i always remember to do, as so many people do not. This etiquette in not a gender thing, but a respect thing. Sitting while other stand and speak to you is considered haughty (or inconsiderate, at the very least), or so i have been taught. A lot of people either disagree or just don't care.

I did bring in a thermometer today, changing the battery with a March 2015 expiry. It was 74+ all morning. When they left i looked again and saw it got lower, Right now its 72.5. Weird.

[I used the word "as" too much. Also i need to work on flow, as opposed to a collection of related statements.]

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Killed smss.exe 4

I almost never reboot Windows at the office. It takes too long, requires turning off all the stuff the IT department uses to ruin my day, and wastes time getting things setup just right. Instead, i just hibernate, and bear the few minutes it takes to get back to normal. (Hmm.. very winteresting.)

This morning while "researching" why some system process (via Process Explorer) was hogging 200MB of memory, and tried restarting it. Luckily, it rejected the idea, and told me other processes relied on it. So, i clicked back to tree list, leaving it highlighted, and saw its progeny included smss.exe. Perhaps out of sheer ignorance, perhaps because i got it mixed up with sms.exe, i asked to restart it. Instant BSOD.

Come to think of it, that was really stupid. Firstly, killing the session manager would at best shut down the OS. But i should have researched it first. So silly. Please, laugh at me, heartily.

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Journal Journal: Rant: Warm office, but what can i do? 8

I really dislike the summer in the office. It gets warmer outside so the women start wearing less clothes. Then they complain the office is too cold. Really?! My water consumption went up this week, and i''ve been buying caffeinated drinks just to stay awake.

I have an air vent above me which was closed before i got here because the lady next cubicle over, who is very nice and sensible as long as she agrees with you, complained of being too cold. When i asked her about it, she said opening it would make her cold, require her to wear a sweater and socks (perish the thought!) and then take them off when she got outside, which would inconvenience her. About me, who gets much too hot and cannot take off my clothes, she offered me the ice pack she uses to keep her lunch cool, to place on my neck or in front or in back of my fan. I guess i'm just clothes-minded. Anyway, arguing with a coworker is not productive and only ends up in fights, if everyone stays employed. So, i'm looking for other solutions.

As our section of the cube farm is a set of four cubicles with their own walls, airflow is restricted. I made a request to maintenance to remove one of my walls or replace it with a half-wall (suggested by another clothes-challenged woman, who sits near a window (no windows can be opened)). That may allow for better air flow. The request went in yesterday, though i have to find out if that is the correct group to make the request to, and if this is allowed, or even if it would be approved.

In years past i've wondered why hot air made me uncomfortable and tired, yet outside i was fine. To wit, inside, at 72 i'm warm, 74 is uncomfortable, 76 is really uncomfortable and i am tired, and at 78 i've been known to blank out (depends on how tired i am). Outside, however, i can weather the 80s and love it. After reading and testing, i found the difference to be fresh air. I don't mind the heat, but the stale air. Take away my fresh air, and i'll need the air to be cooler. I'm assuming this is true for most people, though the range will differ.

Well, fresh air is out of the question here. The windows are closed, we're a few floors up, and the vent that would blow directly on to me has been closed. So, i need to be cooler. Iced and caffeinated drinks only work so much, cost a bit, and have other consequences. A personal air conditioner would seem best, but do those even exist? I mean, there are personal heaters which do the job well. But what about cooling the air? Fans do little more than move the air. I have a fan, but the walls of the cubicle stifle its already limited effect. There are sponge coolers that have mixed reviews. I'm looking for a(n impossible) air conditioner that would just blow the hot air under the cubicle wall (or the like), would be silent, and be powerful enough to cool me down. I don't need much more than that. Truthfully, any idea might work, as long as it is relatively noiseless and inconspicuous.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Bought an S5 and Glass

[This is a modified version of an email i sent. I'm too lazy to linky it up properly. Does anyone really care?]

I bought a used S5 off ebay for $241.50: "This phone was brought in December 2014 from T-mobile, it will come with the phone, original box, charger and case. If I can find the the head phones I will include them also. No scratches are on the phone and it is not unlocked, THIS IS A T-MOBILE PHONE" (I spoke with the guy via ebay's communication system and made sure it had everything, and he guaranteed he would take it back if there was anything didn't work right, including unlocking and the like.) So, it comes with a case. I then purchased a broken Zagg InvisibleShield Glass screen protector for $4.99 which seems to retail on Amazon for a little over $20 (with shipping.) Why broken? I'm glad you asked. It comes with a lifetime warranty, as the ebay auction stated. So, i sent an email to Zagg:

I'll just ask it directly.

If i purchase a broken invisible shield/glass, am i able to use the warranty to replace it?

For example, here's one on ebay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/ZAGG-invisibleSHIELD-GLASS-Samsung-Galaxy-S5-Screen-Protector-BROKEN-P74-/281699082921

I feel at least a little embarrassed about asking this, but as it costs about 25% of the full price, i just have to ask.

The reply was a standard reply completely ignoring my question but giving me the (easily findable) link to replace it. So, i bought it on ebay (delivery by this Friday), registered it, and started to fill out the replacement request, as they will put a hold on your card until they receive the replacement. But, the shipping and handling costs $5.99. Though still a good deal, that's just them covering the cost of their own product, as a google search theorized (because the shipping label shows the amount which, iirc, is $1.20) and suggested complaining:

I am trying to take advantage of warranty replacement for your excellent product (Samsung Galaxy S5 Glass), but shipping is $5.99! Isn't that a little expensive? The product is shippable for much less than that. Is there a way to knock down that cost to something more reasonable?

Well, another, possibly (mostly) standard email came this morning, including:

In regards to your email the shipping rates are generated by USPS and are fees that we in turn charge the customer as the shipping is not part of the warranty since we cover the full cost of the item. As a courtesy I have included a shipping code [redacted] that will waive your shipping as a courtesy. Please shipping is required for next time. Thank you again.

I would say that i feel evil and dirty, but i did the same thing last week. I ordered a book on ebay and "upgraded" it for $4.95 to get the ebook. (They allow you to register the book with no proof. Many people have noted this. I will buy the book first, but i don't mind buying a used one off ebay.) I haven't even received the book yet but am already in middle of chapter 1. The ebook book makes it easier to type in examples. (An essential practice for learning a computer language.) On second thought, maybe i do feel evil.


I ordered the replacement. I feel i must now do what i'm sure Zagg wants me to do, that is, tell everyone what a wonderful company they are. Their reputation already does that, but i don't mind screaming into a dark, possibly empty, room.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Another day, another cup

Well, my dollar store water bottle had a black dot in it, in spite of all my efforts to drain it and leave some air flow every day. In the garbage that went; i ain't playin' with that sort of stuff.

So, it was down to the cafeteria to get a styrofoam cup, which lasts a good few days before coming up with specks. At 15 cents for the cup, lid, and straw, it's not bad. I'm guessing i am allowed to take ice as well, but i'd feel silly asking the cashiers, who may not even know official policy, and worried if they act like they do. Stealing is stealing no matter what the item is. Regardless, i splurged and got Coke Zero, which clearly means i can take ice. Not much though. I want to keep it cold but not water down my drink.

At the register i saw a smallish bowl, half-full with pennies. I was thinking it was one of those win-win, give-a-penny-take-a-penny dishes, but at half full, looked a bit unused. So, i wondered aloud at her, "Pennies...does anyone use those?" She laughed. I was perplexed. Walking away, i felt silly.

Neutrinos are into physicists.