Technology


So I got a Kill A Watt Electricity 4460 Usage Monitor for Christmas. I’ve wanted one for quite a while, and this year I got it. I’m going to be posting several of these blogs over time as I learn more about electricity usage around the house.

For this post, I’m going to investigate my waterbed. It’s not a very big waterbed. It’s a “full” sized bed. I’ve had it since my grad school days, and I’m sure that they might have more efficient models now. But, I care about the one I’ve got. It has wooden side walls, and I always keep several layers of covers on the bed. I want to conserve as much heat as I can, basically.

For this particular test, I let the Kill A Watt measure electricity usage for 298 hours. This is a little over 12 days. These 12 days were chilly. I’d say there were a few days with lows down around 0-5 above, and highs outside were around freezing or lower. I keep the inside of the house warmer than that, of course. I do, however, have a programmable thermostat that lets things get cool during the day. My heat kicks on of a morning, off around the time I go to work, and doesn’t warm up again until evening when I would be getting home from work. During the day, I’d estimate that the temp in the house gets down to 55-60 in weather such as we had for the test.

OK. Enough background. Here’s the data. I looked at my most recent powerbill and came up with an estimated cost of 11.1 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity used. I was able to input this value into the Kill A Watt, and it automatically calculated my costs for me.

Over the course of the 12+ days, the waterbed used 28.02 kilowatt hours. This translates into $7.43 per month and $90.42 per year. The Kill A Watt lets you determine cost by day, week, month, year, and total used while being measured.

So.. $7.43 a month. Am I happy with that? Well, when I tell people, they respond, “That isn’t bad.” I don’t know. I’m still thinking about it. My total electricity costs during the winter are probably $70-$80 (I have natural gas for heating) so the waterbed is using a reasonable percentage of the total electric bill. On the other hand, it probably lets me keep the nighttime temps in the house lower than I would otherwise be comfortable with. What do you think? Is that a reasonable price to pay for a warm bed?

Note: I had thought about getting a lower end model of the Kill A Watt, the P3 International P4400 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor but I ended up getting the 4460 because it automatically calculated costs.

Recently I’ve had a problem with my text boxes (“TEXTAREA”s, in HTML parlance) being truncated at 2,048 characters.

If I go to a form with a textarea that is auto filled with more than 2,048 characters, the form contents is silently chopped off at 2,048 characters. This is obviously quite annoying. Today I was needing to edit a bug report for work and decided to track down the problem. I started disabling AddOns one at a time, and eventually I found the problem.

Here’s the scoop: GreaseMonkey plus Firefox 2 plus long forms equals FAIL.

The GreaseMonkey addon for Firefox lets you write text scripts that get executed on webpages that you look at. I was using it to create automagic links based on text that it was seeing in webpages. But, there’s a bug with the way that Firefox 2 processes webpages (I won’t go into details here) that causes textareas to get chopped off after 2,048 characters. The easiest solution that I’ve found is to upgrade to Firefox 3. But, since I can’t do that, I’ve had to just get rid of GreaseMonkey.

You know.. Amazon impresses me. They really actually have a pretty good system in place to suck people in and get them to spend money.

I don’t know if you did any Christmas shopping at amazon or not, but, as has been the case for years now, they have wicked fast shipping for their free shipping stuff. Each year it seems to get a little better. This year, I think you had to have your order placed by Dec 17 to get free shipping. That’s not bad! One guy I knew placed an order on the 17th, with free shipping, and had the package in-hand on the 19th.

Now, they’ve compiled a list of New Year’s resolutions that they know that people often make, and they are selling products based on that. Pretty sneaky. The capitalist side of me really enjoys seeing companies that “get it”. Companies that think ahead and say, “You know.. After New Year’s there’s a legitimate marketing opportunity for us. Let’s take it.” I know that Amazon isn’t alone… But I saw this and happened to think back to the various things that Amazon has done. What about you? Can you think of other companies that have a consistent track record of not messing up?

It looks like they’ve finally found Steve Fossett’s plane, and this news caused me to go back and look at the pictures that I took of him at Oshkosh for the EAA Airventure a few years back.

He had just flown around the world, non stop, and they were showing off the aircraft that he used. He really was quite a guy, with some truly amazing accomplishments. If you haven’t read up on him, you should do so. For your viewing pleasure, the pictures from EAA Airventure:

You can click on any picture to get larger versions.



Godspeed, Steve.

Official Google Blog: Our position on California’s No on 8 campaign

Google, you disappoint me. And I don’t know that I’ve ever actually said that before.

I fear that you are starting to channel your inner movie star. I fear that you are starting to think that, because you are famous, that you need to make a political statement about your stance on political issues. This disappoints me. You aren’t a PAC. You are an internet company.

I’m not going to discuss what I think about the stance you have taken. Whether you come down on the side of gay marriage, or the side against gay marriage isn’t relevant to this blog post. I’m just disappointed that you felt that, as a company, you needed to choose a side in an issue that isn’t relevant to your business.

Focus… Focus.. Eye on the prize, G.. Eye on the prize.

I sometimes need to look at a cookies.txt file and figure out what the entries mean.

Basically, you have a line in the file that looks like:

www.someURL.com FALSE / FALSE 0 VNAME v,value,and,more

  • www.someURL.com – The domain that the cookie applies to
  • FALSE – can other webservers within www.someURL.com access this cookie? If there was a webserver at blah.www.someURL.com, could it see this cookie?
  • / – more restrictions on what paths on www.someURL.com can see this cookie. Anything here and under can see the cookie. / is the least restrictive, meaning that any (and all) requests from www.someURL.com get the cookie header sent.
  • FALSE – Do we have to be coming in on https to send the cookie?
  • 0 – expiration time. zero probably means that it never expires, or that it is good for as long as this session lasts. A number like 928934729 would correspond to a number of seconds since the epoch (Jan 1, 1970).
  • VNAME – The name of the cookie variable that will be send to the server.
  • v,value,and,more – cookie value that will be sent. Might be comma separated list of terms, or could just be a word.. Hard to say. Depends on the server.

In case you aren’t aware of craigslist, it’s a great place to find stuff that you might need.

And, if you have stuff that you want to get rid of, it’s a great place to post stuff.

If you are going to post, though, don’t be dumb about it. Use some common sense and follow the terms of usage when you do your posting. If you don’t follow the rules, you will likely find craigslist readers flagging your post as being wrong (in one way or another) and it will disappear on you.

To that end, here are a few things that I’ve noticed recently…

  • Post to the right craigslist. Craigslist communities exist for most medium to large towns. If you don’t know which one to post to, go to Google maps and plot the distance from where you are to where the possible craigslists are for. Find the closest one, and post to that craigslist. If you post in others, you’ll likely find yourself flagged for not posting in the right one.
  • Craigslist allows you to have a single running post for a given item. If you want to “bump” your item up on the listing page, delete the old posts for that item first. If you have 2 or 3 going at the same time, that’s a great way to get yourself flagged. Why should you be able to ignore the craigslist rules when everyone else tries to follow them? Oh, and changing the way the ad looks, but still advertising the same item just makes everyone think that you’re trying to be sneaky. Craigslist rules don’t say that you can advertise the same item as long as you change the presentation. They say you can’t advertise the same item multiple times. This also goes for the price. You can’t put up multiple ads for the same item with the price changed by a buck or two. Still the same item!
  • Oh, and even if you delete other postings for a given item, Craigslist still has rules that say you can’t post a single item more frequently than every 48 hours. If you try to post the same item every day, expect to get flagged.
  • Speaking of items.. Every post you do needs to actually be about an item! If you have a furniture store and want to write a post about a terrific new, one of a kind bed that you have, that’s great! Post it in the furniture section. Good luck, and hopefully you’ll find a buyer.

    However, if you decide to post a generic ad saying that you “sell furniture and would love to help people out” in the furniture section… Prepare to be flagged. Craigslist says that item posts need to be about an item. If you want to tell everyone that you sell furniture, put it in the Services section.

Good luck! Have fun using craigslist. Just follow the rules, and make it more enjoyable for those of us that use craigslist to find the stuff we need and want.

🙂

A while back, I bought an all in one printer/fax/copier/scanner to use with my business that I’m getting started.

I bought the Canon imageclass mf3240 laser, and I’ve been pretty happy with it. My only complaint has been that it basically took over my phone line and I haven’t been able to use my home phone to receive calls. If someone calls, I have about 2 seconds to answer a phone or the fax machine thinks it is getting an incoming fax and starts playing annoying beeps in the ears of those that are calling.

My problem seems to stem from having multiple phones on multiple extensions. Supposedly, it can be fixed easily enough if you hang the answering machine and main phone off of the fax machine.

Tonight I decided to get this fixed so that it worked as it should, and I would be able to get phone calls or faxes.

After looking through the manuals for the Canon, I found that it has a ‘Receive Mode’ that can be set to various things, from FaxOnly to AnsMode to FAX/TEL. I first started out with FAX/TEL. I thought that it would take care of my problem. But, it didn’t work right when I called from another phone. Then, I tried AnsMode. That worked right for a regular phone call, but I needed a way to see if it would receive incoming faxes properly. So, I started googling for fax back services. The first thing I ran across was a San Francisco Rent Board website that would send out faxes. So, I decided to try it. I called the number up, told it send me the annual statistics (on something) and waited. The phone rang. The answering machine picked up, said a couple of words and went quiet. Then, the little ‘Processing/Data’ light on the machine started blinking.. and blinking.. and blinking..

After several minutes I decided to call the home phone from another phone.. Got a busy signal. Then I picked up a home phone. It was just quiet. I could talk, and hear myself. So, I unplugged the fax machine from the phone line. After a few seconds it beeped the “I’m done receiving” beep and started printing. 14 or 15 pages later, it had finished.

So, I thought that I had things going. But, I wanted to find another faxback service to do some additional testing. More googling led me to:


http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c00259105&cc=us&lc=en&dlc=en&product=351106&dlc=en&lang=en

Basically, that’s a two way fax testing service. You send a one page fax to 1-888-hpfaxme and a few minutes later you get a fax back. You know that your machine is sending faxes properly, and you know that your machine is receiving faxes properly. How cool is that? And useful.

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