Category Archives: Blog

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Testing Household Appliances To Save Money

Reddy Kilowatt

Remember this goofy guy?  Reddy Kilowatt. He was a fictional spokesman for the Electric companies and he made his first appearance in 1926.

There were Reddy Kilowatt Youth Clubs and they actively promoted against Socialism and Communism. Those of you who are younger and watch the news could think Socialism in the US is a new and exciting thing.  It isn’t.  They were calling for it in the 1920’s just like they are calling for it now.

His job essentially was to make you think the electric companies were the good guys, and don’t get me wrong, in a lot of ways they were.

They brought power into our homes and businesses and that’s a tough act to follow.  Now though, the power company would like you to conserve power as much as possible which is an interesting concept because, hey, they sell power.

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Best Tech of 2019?

So here it is, New Years Eve…….I’m up at 1 AM and reading “Best Tech of The Year” articles.  Either one of two things has happened.  Either nothing tremendously wonderful happened in Tech this year or the imagination and writing skills of journalists are now nearly non-existent.

Every list shows the latest cell phones or drones, or gaming device or newest TV offering.  I’m sorry, but that just isn’t that inspiring to me.   I may be a dinosaur but newer is not always better.  Case in point.  Look up the home entertainment category and most lists have some SONOS player.  That’s a networked streaming audio system.

I’ve been using Logitechmediaserver so many years it isn’t funny.  It streams Spotify, Tidal, TuneIn, Pandora (I dropped my Pandora subscription) and many, many more services.

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1908 Saint Gaudens $20 Gold Piece and God

Hey, it’s my blog.  Everything doesn’t have to be technical if I don’t want it to be.   I was with my gf’s family over Christmas and somehow or another Roosevelt came up.  I snuck in my favorite Roosevelt story which dealt with the 1908 $20 Gold Saint Gaudens coins.

Roosevelt was deeply involved in the US Mint and felt that our US coinage should be more spectacular.  In 1905 he commissioned Augustus Saint Gaudens to design new gold coinage ($2, $5, $10, $20).

Roosevelt also felt like that the phrase “In God We Trust” was inappropriate as the coins could be used in criminal activities and he didn’t want them bearing the name of God on them.  So in 1908 the $20 coin was struck with no In God We Trust motto. While his heart was in the right place the public outcry was quite the opposite and sufficient pressure was placed to return the motto in late 1908.

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Lonesome Lady

On July 28th 1945 a B-24 named Lonesome Lady took of from Yontan airfield in Okinawa to attack ships at anchor at Kure Harbor. The aircraft was shot and subsequently crashed in a small field just outside of Iwakuni Japan. The village the actual crash occurred in is called Ikachi. A local resident, Mr. Keiichi Muranaka raised funds to place a monument at the site of the crash. I find it unique that in a small field in Japan a monument to a crashed B-24 exists.

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LONESOME LADY MONUMENT IN IKACHI JAPAN

The crew members all bailed out of the aircraft and with the exception of the pilot and the tail gunner were all captured and taken to Hiroshima where they died in the Atomic Bombing. The pilot was taken to Tokyo and questioned and the tail gunner was taken to Kure. In 1999 a monument was placed in Hiroshima for American POW’s killed during the Atomic Bombing.

The Lonesome Lady Monument is located just off Road 70 near Ikachi Japan.

lonesomelady

Below is a Google Earth KMZ file which can be downloaded which will get you exactly to the site which is darn near impossible to find without assistance. You can download the waypoint into your GPS or simply print off turn by turn directions in Google Maps.

Lonesome Lady

So get off the base in Iwakuni and go out and find the Lonesome Lady Monument. It’s not something you’d expect to find in rural Japan.

Get Home Bag

After having lived in Eastern NC for about 6 years I’ve already gone through an ice storm, two hurricanes, and innumerable near miss hurricanes.   I haven’t actually evacuated yet but evacuation is always a real possibility.   I figure there could be a period of discomfort, leaving or coming home where you could be stuck somewhere.

Some call it a “Bug out Bag”. I call it a “Get Home Bag”.  At any rate you should investigate putting one together for yourself.  You never know.   After much studying and consideration these are the items below that I put in my kit.  The kit will probably always be imperfect to some extent and may need tweaked but for now……….this is it.

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FreeNAS Server

A few years back I built a home server based on information mostly obtained from this blog  I never really knew how bad I needed this server until it went down about a month ago with a motherboard failure.   My server was built with these components:

And  of course I’m using the operating system FreeNAS which is free and is pretty much the best Server OS there is.  Yeah, that’s debatable, I know.

I also use something called OpenMediaVault on the little teeny tiny piece of the server you can see in the right side of the picture.

The little piece of the server to the left is my backup to the backup server. Can’t be too safe!

 

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Fixing Your Own Appliances

I am a HUGE advocate for buying appliances that are easy to maintain, without computer chips and boards, and that have an abundance of readily available spare parts.

I have a washer dryer combo I purchased in 2003 which is still going strong.  In 16 years I have only changed the pump on the washer (about $20) and replaced the belt on the dryer as far as general wear and tear goes.   When I moved back from Japan the movers crushed the top of the washer and dryer and broke the timer switch on the washer and some plastic brackets.  I negotiated a settlement and fixed all that stuff up like new as well.

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Using A Laptop As A TV – Old School Stuff

So sometimes a really good technology just never really takes off.  A USB TV Tuner is just one such technology.

It should have taken off.  Just about everyone who has a laptop should have one of these.  I have three.

So what would you use it for?  In my case I live in a Hurricane zone and in fact got blasted by Hurricane Florence last year and had no power for several days.  (Actually I had power because I have a full house generator). Anyway, due to a concern for the amount of fuel I had on hand I shut down at times and THIS is how I got my news during those times.

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How To Fix Your Refrigerator or Freezer Quickly and Cheaply

So you bought a cheap fridge or freezer at WalMart, did ya?  Or maybe your old fridge or freezer  conked out.  The first thing that comes to mind is “THE COMPRESSOR IS OUT”!  A scary thought indeed.  And you think that because you don’t hear the compressor noise and nothing is cooling anymore.

Compressors are pretty robust devices.  They do fail, they sure do, but many times one of the components that connect to the compressor fail causing the compressor not to start.   There are three components hooked up to a common refrigerator or freezer compressor.

  • Motor Starting Relay
  • Starting Capacitor (and possibly a run capacitor)
  • Overload Protector

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Appliances Rant !

Appliances.  We all need ’em. I’m all about high tech but there are some things that just don’t need to be high tech.  Things like refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, and hot water heaters should last for DECADES, not a few years.

Seems like there has been a rash of throw away appliances the last few years.  I have several friends who bought fancy washers and dryers with computers onboard that dropped dead after a few years with expensive repairs needed to get going again.

Meanwhile my washer and dryer that I bought in 2003 is still going strong with minimal repairs WHICH I DID MYSELF.  If a washer has a tub, bearing, motor and timer switch it’s pretty easy to fix.  If it is computer controlled with several boards under the hood……..you need specific training to fix it.

AND YOU NEED THE MANUALS!  I can’t stress enough how important it is to have access to the repair manuals. There are many parts web sites online that have complete Parts Breakdown and Service manuals.  Also from those same pages you can order the parts you need.  Old reliable appliances had SPARE PARTS made in droves.

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