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Journal Journal: Chronicle: Bluetooth, Kindle Fire, updates, and more. 3

Continuing from the last exciting edition of what is Chacham buying today, I decided to try out the Plantronics Explorer 50 for $23.19 on ebay. Weird that it's cheaper from the UK. Anyway, i was thinking of purchasing the 3 for the 10% discount, but that's too big a gamble for a product i have not tried. If i like it, i may buy another 1 or 2. Or, purchase 3 and see if i can sell one on Amazon. Things are so much more expensive there for some reason.

I also purchased the Kindle Fire for my mother, though, i don't plan to give it to her before Sunday. I installed Google Play, and set it up and the Amazon account on a gmail address i setup for her but she doesn't use. That way, games can be installed only for free (no cc entered) and identity permission will lead to an unused address, so i can load word games with reckless abandon.

Aside from word games, i set it up to check her yahoo email, and loaded Overdrive and Zineo for Libraries, both of which are supported by our local library. Interestingly, the latter is listing in the Android store, but won't install on the Fire. The comments say it, and i tried it. Had to use Google Play for that one. No idea if she'll use it, but, it's a nice option.

I decided to get a Google Cardboard. For some reason, it never excited me, no idea why. But with some of the latest news i decided to look. According to a Youtube video and comments, V2 is better than V1 because it holds bigger phones, the button when from magnetic to conductive, the nose wall has been eliminated, the lenses are better, the lenses are held in place without obstruction, and there is an oil coating to protect the cardboard from sweat stains. Based on price, reviews, and sheer laziness, i chose the QPAU version. It comes with a head strap, and although comments say it is uncomfortable, one commenter said you can use foam from a Nerf dart for an easy fix. Have i mentioned that i love Amazon reviews?

In other news of my crazy purchasing spree, my citron seeds have been coming along, though a lot just died after a little growth. There seems to be 15+ good ones though. Then there's the 6 tomato plants i received as seed in pots. One was a dud, one died an early death, but the other four have been growing. One of them has a certain fungus in it. It grew and died, in one day i think, and i saw it again this morning. It brings back fears, so i probably just going to toss it. The other 3 though, probably need to be replanted.

The citrons went from bag to tray to 4-inch pot The tomato plants had their own biodegradable pot, but i places them in 4-inch pots. The 5 that started to grow got more dirt too. In any case, they need to be upgraded before i give them away, and these 6-inch pots seem like they will do that job nicely.

A friend asked me about replacing the head on their Kenmore Power-Mate 116.2216182. Heads are found on ebay and elsewhere, but what fits? Google searching ultimately brought me to a Central Vacuum Questions & Feedback who responded within a day. Wow.

In other news, my 3rd car's glorious life is coming to an end. It hasn't died, but its becoming undriveable. Two tires are pretty bald, the other two are a little better, the brakes take a lot longer to stop the car, the hood is held down by bungee cords (those breaks had something to do with it), the trunk won't open (a friend helped it close by disconnecting the wires, incorrectly assuming i had the key), the muffler is not doing its job, and the bottom of the car is rusting away. At one point, i had the car taken to get (some of) its wheels replaced and the worker refused, saying i shouldn't be driving the car. Apparently, the something holding the front axle in place seems to be on its way out. There's also a piece of wood holding the drivers seat in place because of a small hole existing where it would have otherwise been screwed in. "But it drives great." It's a Honda '98 Civic: it's a great car, but it's rusting away.

Anyway, the snow is not a safe place for that car to be. Considering i bought it for $1200 (and that with the middleman's markup) ~2 years ago, it has served me well. Fixing it would likely cost more than the car did, and even then, it may not last. So, i plan to look at another $1200 car tomorrow, from a trusted mechanic. I'm looking for something short-term right now, less than a year. My first car was a stick, the 2nd was an automatic, 3rd was a stick, and 4th looks like it'll be an automatic. :( I hereby call it ISTMS, Inverse Star Trek Movie Syndrome.

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Journal Journal: Looking for Galen's De Temperamentis in English (5)

Looking for an update to Galen's De Temperamentis in English, i emailed the lady at Cambridge Press again and received a prompt response:

The manuscript for Galen: Works on Human Nature has still not yet been submitted to the Press - the editors say that they are anticipating now to submit in June 2016.

So, there's more time to wait. That's okay, as my overall project is nearly at a stop to to laziness and circumstance. I've got to get started again. I know i'll be interested right after i get into it again.

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Journal Journal: Chronicle: Need replacement bluetooth, Kindle Fire for mom? 6

I tried a few Bluetooth earpieces. Just a few. My brother gave me an old Motorola one (H something?) which i used until it broke, and when i finally accepted that it was actually broken to the point that it would not magically start working again, i searched Amazon and bought a Plantronics M50. (And after some time, i finally threw out the Motorola one.)

Actually, i first tries the Voyager Legend, but found it to be too heavy on my ear. Pretty cool otherwise. I wanted a second one for the car, that is, of the M50, and mistakenly bought an M55. Within seconds of trying it i realized it was not an M50 and resold it. Now i have lost my M50 (again.) After trying to get along without it (and accepting that i probably won't find it where i think i lost it) i want a replacement. It is so convenient to have my hands free when talking to people who love to talk and can't just hang up. Or, when i'm speaking to a friend for a half hour. But the M50 is discontinued, and the prices are going up.

I might just buy an M50 anyway, but i need something cheaper. Ultimately, i would like 2 of them: one for home and one for the car. That way, i'm much less likely to lose them. You'd think there'd be a way to find them if they were lost. But the companies that want to sell more of them probably do not have much incentive for that feature.

There Plantronics Explorer 50 might just be the replacement i am looking for, though, there's some concern over the volume.

On a not really related note, i am thinking of getting my mother a Kindle Fire. For $50, it's a steal. And people seem to like it for basic use. My concern is more complicated though.

She has a cell phone, which my younger brother bought for her that has bog buttons and cheap minutes. She uses it, but dislikes it. Though, i brought her a friend's FreedomPop to try out, but she was resistant to the touchscreen or whatever. I must admit, touchscreens are awesome but not very intuitive; you have to get used to them. Anyway, that was a no go, and that severely limits phones and options. So, i was thinking that having a tablet (as opposed to a phone) lying around, she might just pick it up one day, and some years later get used to it. She wants to hold books in her hands, so a regular Kindle is out. She uses her computer mostly for email, but some browsing (and printing.) So, maybe having a tablet on the couch would be convenient. It's not intrusive, her grandkids would likely enjoy it too, and it isn't needed. So, not using it has no repercussions (unlike having it as the phone or reader.) She doesn't have Administrator rights on her XP box, which works out quite well (aside from having to login to install updates and what have you.) So, i might want to lock up the tablet the same way.

In the meanwhile, i threw it in my Amazon basket. At $50 i want to think about it some more.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Verbiage: Good books for Android Studio

So, i've been looking for a good book on Android. It's hard as almost all are out of date shortly after publication, and most of them say "do this now do that" and expect you to learn from doing. Some explain, but the explanations are more of the approach and what will be done, rather than why each thing is being done and alternative approaches (for better or worse.)

I found two books that i liked though. One was Learn Android Studio: Build Android Apps Quickly and Effectively. While the book quickly devolves into "do this, now do that," the earlier chapters walk through Android Studio itself, showing off what nearly every side button and menu option does, with examples to follow. It's not "if you do this, this option will help." It's, "type this in, now press ctrl- etc and watch this happen" Very nice. The asking price is expensive for that, but via a sale on Apress' website, i got it for $20. Not too bad for a book that made me feel comfortable with the tool itself.

The second book is Android Studio Development Essentials. I ignored it at first due to the stupid cover design (no, really, and yes, i know) and came to it later. Amazon lists the date of the first edition (even though they were selling the second edition) and Techtopia has the entire second edition online. (Even though there are ads to purchase it, i confirmed with the publisher that it is the full edition.) Anyway, the book looked good. So, i emailed the publisher to find out if there was an updated version. Well, the author was working on it just then, and it is becoming available this week. Sweet.

From a technical perspective, this book is far above the competition. It explains why things are done. Chapters are bite size around specific topics, and there is clear progression. Examples are explained before being done, then during and/or afterward. Rationale is explained, and other methods to achieve the same goal are either mentioned or given as examples.

For example, there are three ways to add views (aka widgets) to an Activity (the Android naming scheme must've been invented by a moron) it can be done via dragging and dropping, editing the xml, or in code. There's a chapter on each with examples, and he lists the pros and cons of each approach.

For all its good though, the writing style leaves what to be desired as the sentences can sound awkward. (In the 2nd edition, "whilst" was used, which also sounded awkward. The 3rd edition changed them to while. A find on the pdf found no instances of "whilst.") Nonetheless, they're information packed. And, at $10 for the ebook, i don't even care that much. The book is a steal.

I sent in a couple typos that have been corrected in the latest edition. And, the publisher sent me the 3rd edition yesterday, so i could get the latest without having to wait for it to be made available. Of course, i was asked to continue sending in typos with makes me even happier. You mean someone cares? :)

Anyway, i'm just so happy over the book and the publisher i had to scream somewhere. If you're looking for an Android book and want to understand what is going on, get this book. For $10, its a steal. And you can still preview the entire 2nd edition on Techtopia.

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12/7 Update: Added correction about whilst/while. Should have checked first. Silly me.

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Journal Journal: Link o the day:Gogo/plzma/piQM/ppsi-beer/Snwdn-tips/croc-grd

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Journal Journal: Link o the day:brain reading/ota charge/heartbeat record/gps

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Journal Journal: Chronicle: Ramble: sqlplus, shortcuts, batch file, & env var

So, git (bash) uses the environment variable http_proxy. No problem, i set it as a system variable and it works great. But sqlplus is having issues with it, though i have no idea why it wants a proxy. No problem, set it back. Hmm... I have a bunch of sqlplus start menu shortcuts that SET NLS_LANG=.US8PC437 to allow history. Maybe i can just add http_proxy to the line.

No good, the line length is too large! Okay, batch file. Makes more sense anyway as i have 4 shortcuts (used to be 8) that do the same thing but with different connect strings. $ nope, it's % for windows batch command line variables. Add SET HTTP_PROXY=http://localhost but it doesn't work. Why not? Oh, because the local set sets local and the other variable is a system variable. Weird. It's out to get me. Change the system variable to a user variable so the local set overrides it. Boom, it works.

That took waaaay too long to figure out. Regardless, i now have a batch file:

SET NLS_LANG=.US8PC437
SET HTTP_PROXY=http://localhost
"C:\Program Files\Oracle\instantclient\sqlplus.exe" user/pass@(DESCRIPTION=(ADDRESS=(PROTOCOL=TCP)(HOST=%1.example.com)(PORT=1521))(CONNECT_DATA=(SID=%2)))

executed by

C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe /q /c "C:\Program Files\Oracle\instantclient\connect.bat" sub.dom sid

As a side note, setting LOCAL (Windows version of TWO_TASK) didn't work. Though, i may have just been mixed up when i tried it.

Unfortunately, it echoes the SET statements when it opens the shortcuts. Oh, /q takes care of it, so C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe /c /q... Nope. after /c its treated as a literal. Have to put /q before /c. Keyboard is awesome in Windows, but they still make it hard in the details.

Totally insecure but majorly convenient. Especially because when i'm forced to change my password, i now only need to update it in one place.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Water pitcher and Walmart 3

Well, the water fountain here started having black dots in the water. I thought my Styrofoam cup simply got moldy or something, so i would go buy another for 15 cents. Until someone else mentioned to me he saw them as well, and i reported the problem. They've been looking into it, but are perplexed as to the problem as how to test an intermittent issue.

So, i started going downstairs for water. Maintenance told me the entire building uses all the same water and the fountain does not use a filter. But, i haven't had the issue near the cafeteria. But, i end up drinking less because i'm too lazy to go downstairs. Get a pitcher, right? But it'd look silly carrying the pitcher upstairs, every day. So, get a fancy pitcher. Maybe. Wait, i know, i can get a water filter!

Brita, right? Searching shows Brita doesn't do much, especially when compared to Pur. But if i get a water pitcher, others will want, so i figured i would get the 18 cup version. Walmart.com showed it for under $20 and available in the store. So, i went to the store, but it wasn't i the housewares aisle. Being a man, i couldn't just ask for help, so i downloaded the Walmart app and searched for it. Wow, it's there, and in aisle L10 in hardware. Why hardware? More expensive though. Wait, Walmart has aisle numbers? Oh, there's faucets, there's filters, oh, hardware and plumbing are related. Look, there's small placards with aisle numbers on them. Who knew?

I see only the smaller sizes, and lots of open boxes. I asked, the guy who works the aisle said they don't carry that size, never have, and the online site is incorrect all the time about what they have. Why are the boxes open, people steal filters. Some pitchers were opened with the filter stolen. Wow. I knew but now i saw it. Really?

I went home, i searched, pitcher is closer to $30. Ebay is no different, though there's someone selling a new pitcher without a filter. Hmm... I put the 18 cup in my cart and then deleted it. I'm waiting. This morning i searched for it from the office before signing in. Sure enough, back to under $20. Put it in my cart and signed in, and got the cheaper price.

To get over $50 (for free shipping) i bought other items i didn't see at the store (anymore.) Sun dried tomatoes, Julianne cut, in oil. Goes great on sandwiches. (And i don't like tomatoes, just the flavor, usually.) And some peperoni. The Bell View hot and sweet cucumber slices seem to have slipped off their shelf and website. I guess its time to shift to another brand, much like i did when the same happened to the hot and sweet pepper rings. I wanted both, and the prices were good, so it works.

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Journal Journal: Amazon Reviews: Seedling Starter Trays 2

It's that time of the year again, and i want to plant my citron's seeds. I'll probably get to it today or Sunday, by placing the seeds between two wet paper towels inside a sealed ziploc bag for a couple weeks, then tranfer them to small pots and find out which ones survive.

As i get about 90 seeds, i'll reuse my planter tray, but i need new seeders. I ain't gonna use them biodegradable pots (like i did last time), as i'm too stupid too make 'em work right. But, i will get cheap starter trays until it's worthwhile to do anything with them.

Anyways...a quick search found these, so it was off to the reviews, where i found a worrying review which was corrected by a comment on the view.

What can i say? I love Amazon reviews.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Verbiage: Twice sleep

I've saw this once before, not sure where, but just searched and found it again. That is, that people used to sleep twice per night.

Close to 20 years ago, i fell into that habit, of sleeping from 3 or 4 until 7, then again from about 11 to 5 or so, garnering 9 hours per night. I felt great. I wonder if it was due to the 9 hours, or due to the twice sleep. (Or chatting on Geocities.)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Geting a server to run FF Sync 1.1 2

Steadfastly keeping to FF 28 has now made me out of Sync. Unfortunately, new Sync is not backwards compatible, so i will probably have to run my own Sync server.

I really ought to use the FF variants. Chromefox stinks. But, as i use a mac at home, FF seems to be the only choice. And, with all the amazing plugins, plus some actual security, FF and its variants are the only ones that interest me.

So, i should be getting a Linode again, unless i very soon find some other reliable server out there. Not that i have searched much. And, i kind of want my own server (again) anyway.

User Journal

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?

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

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