Archive for March 2008

Cedar Desk Lamp with Dimmer

March 30, 2008

Two years ago I began building ‘STUFF’ out of cedar. I found that I could buy an eight foot, rough cedar, 2X4 post at Home Depot for about $5.50.

Once I got the thing home I would cut it up on the table saw into 2 inch by one inch 8 foot sections. I trimmed off the rough sides, cut out any knots and imperfections, glued some of the pieces together to make 2X2 inch posts or six inch square sections 2 inches thick or any other size that came to mind.

I liked the way plain varnish darkened the cedar and brought out the beauty of the wood without need for stain.

I began building floor lamps and desk lamps. Each made from 100 percent cedar, even the shades. Those very thin trimmed rough sections ended up making perfectly good lamp shade material.

Recently I came into possession of a small table lamp that was a touch on, touch again to make brighter, touch a third time to make brightest, and touch again to turn off. It soon became one of my favorite lamps until recently the touch mechanism quit working. Touch it as you may it remains on bright. After I could not get the base appart, I gave up on this six dollar thrift shop item.

I retired it to temporary spare computer service. The shade attaches to its light bulb with a wire hoop. I turn the hoop clockwise, seating the bulb to turn it one. Turn it counterclockwise, unseating the bulb to turn it off. It never had a real on/off switch. Just the high tech touch on/bright/off function that quit working. Now it has a really low tech but effective way of turning it on and off. Very primitive but not as bad as unplugging it and plugging it back in.

Now I needed a replacement.

Several months ago we replaced eight 100watt ceiling mounted wall washer spots with compact flourescents.
The first thing we noticed was the new compact flourescents do not work well with incandescent dimmers. The dimmers were replaced with ordinary switches.

Not wishing to discard perfectly good incandescent dimmers, I decided to use one to invent an new desk lamp. One that had a dimmer feature.

I used my fostener bit assortment to hollow out the base of one of the desk lamps. Then I mounted the dimmer inside the hollowed out recess and glued it in with hot melt glue. Got it wired up and presto, a nice incandescent desk lamp with dimmer.

Works great and is a near perfect replacement for that touch lamp that failed.

AT&T has a Secret

March 29, 2008

We are ATT u-verse subscribers. Have been for the better part of six months now. Basic cable TV service and broadband internet.

About a month ago we got a large postcard from AT&T announcing a free weekend of HBO. It was being offered as a promotional effort presumably to show us what we were missing.

The free HBO weekend was to occur starting March 20. It is now March 29 and still no free HBO weekend. We have come to the conclusion that we are not missing anything by not having HBO.

Today we get another very large postcard from AT&T announcing that we can upgrade to a better cable service with them. I-DID-NOT-KNOW-THAT!!!! Imagine that, if I were made of money and short on brains I could pay much more for some more bad programming content. No thanks.

Just to be fair I will have to admit that the card also offered the first months additional programing at no extra charge. The card was also painfully deficient in letting me know how much more I would be paying for the extra service in the second month and all months thereafter. Guess it is a secret.

Now why do you suppose AT&T would act as though they do not want their customers to know how much more an upgrade would cost? Could it be that the price increase is not worth the additional service? Could it be that the additional service is substandard, that program material selection is not really better than the basic service.

Perhaps. When you are offering your customers an additional service expecting to charge them more money, you don’t want to scare them off by telling them how much it will cost.

Sounds to me like the kind of misdirection politicians are famous for.

So what is the secret? Seems to me AT&T is being run by politicians. Either that or folk that have similar techniques and objectives. Objectives that seem to put AT&T profit ahead of customer satisfaction. Politicians can get away with that sort of nonsense. The private sector demands better treatment. Ask those who were involved with the old Comcast cable service.

Web Mail

March 28, 2008

As far as I am concerned Web Mail is the only way to do email. I use google web mail.

Normal email is ISP specific. You set it up with an email client program, fuss with setting POP and SMTP addresses, and other stuff including getting the program to learn the difference between spam and desirable email if the software has such function.

Once you have completed the standard setup your contacts list, emails that have been down loaded, and any other email specific information is stored on your computers hard drive on the computer you used to install the email software. You now have to be physically present at that particular computer or you will not be able to use the email feature to full advantage. Not only that but you are also tied to the ISP. Change ISPs and you also need to change your email address and let everyone know about the change. That is normal, standard email.

Web Mail takes all the email stuff you normally store on your local machine and stores it for you on a server provided for that purpose. Google provides the server at no charge to you for storing up to 6gig of email data. Now it no longer matters where you are or what computer you are using. You can use any computer anywhere in the world at any time. All you need is an internet connection and you have full access to your email system.

I have been using web mail for the better part of a year now. I particularly like the way google provides spam filtering. It works well and has completely eliminated any spam.

The system here is fully implemented with its own domain name and a few special features provided through google.

As it stands the system will support 100 email addresses and provide complete control over those addresses. You can activate, delete, or suspend any and all of the 100 addresses in your system. This feature becomes more important if and when you should start attracting spam. Normally spam is handled by the web mail software without need for any attention from the user. However sometimes an address will attract spam for whatever reason. You can ignore it but it will not go away. To make it go away you have to suspend the offending address and let it run open like that for a week or more.

An email address in suspension will result in bounced messages. Every email sent to the bad address will be sent back to the originator with a note declaring the address to be unreachable. Spammers will eventually remove such notes along with the addresses causing such action. Once all your spammers get the message, you will no longer be receiving any spam.

Now, if you wish, you can restore the emal address and its account.

Landmines

March 24, 2008

Used to be you could click on a link and actually land on the site the link proclaimed. Noways the proclaimed sites are becoming harder and harder to recognize. Mainly because of google banner ads. These banner splashes are ‘in your face’ , unwelcome, distractions often advertising ‘the other guys stuff’ in a way that could easily trick the unwary into selecting unwanted, time wasting information.

That was my experience in a recent search on the web for multimedia software. After taking several promising leads from a well known search engine, leads touting xyz software company, I was presented with a large color banner proclaiming a link to zyx software company, a competitor to xyz.

Can’t help but wonder if xyz knows that those nickel a click google ads are costing him customers by taking them to his competitor. I suspect he has no idea about how badly he is getting screwed by google. He probably has not logged onto his website in months.

I am pretty sure that I am not the only unsuspecting surfer who was taken to the wrong URL.

Things used to be much more civilized when google ads were restricted to right and left columns reserved for such nonsense. I just never expected some loud, gaudy, and unruly banner clown would jump out at me like an aggressive carney barker to keep me from getting to the site I was seeking. And to do that in the center column as the first entry that shows up when the desired URL is opened is just an intensely rude and inconsiderate tactic. It is like getting spamed in real time with no defenses.

Most people know how much I love and respect spamers. Yeah, these google banner ad morons are not getting my business either and I will go out of my way to educate everyone I know.

$1000 Gold!

March 13, 2008

Don’t you wish you had some? No, I would rather own real estate or dollars that were worth something. Gold is not worth more than it was worth 100 years ago. The dollar just does not buy much these days. How much less? Well I remember when gold was priced at $25 an ounce and was used to back the dollar. This kept the government from printing more money than it had gold for backing.

Then some moron decided to sell all the gold in fort knox and start printing federal reserve notes. That prevented folk from converting their greenbacks to gold. Soon after, conversion became impossibile because the government no longer had any gold.

So now when you see gold at $1000 an ounce, what it really means is that it now takes $1000 to buy today what could have been purchased for $25 in the 1950s.

The only folk making money off gold investments are those who sell it. Even then they only make profits off the shipping and handling.

We often hear that the same $20 dollar gold coin that would have bought you a nice suit in 1850 will still buy you a nice suit today. Very true. What they do not tell you is that had you invested that $20 in a savings account in 1850, your decendents could buy the entire clothing store today.

Sometimes even historians don’t learn from history. Guess it is not good enough to know how to read. You also need to understand what is being read.

New Scams for Old

March 11, 2008

I kept getting unwanted messages from some vendors that I have done business with. Some were familiar. Others were not familiar and gave cause to wonder why they thought I would be interested in hearing from them.

Turns out that some companies automatically subscribe you to their ‘newsletter’ when you place an order. If you do not want to be subscribed, you have to go out of your way to find the elusive subscription box and uncheck it. The bottom line here is that they can send you spam and cover their ugly behinds by claiming you subscribed to receive the crap they are sending.

I consider this the ugliest of ugly fraudulent tactics. If their marketing is this devious and evil the rest of the company has to be rotten as well.

Inappropriate

March 11, 2008

When are people who go through life with broken moral compasses, going to realize that the rest of us simply ignore them when they speak of things which they consider inappropriate.

When you have nothing to tell you what is appropriate, you have no chance at all of guessing what might be inappropriate.

As always it becomes a matter of the black pot calling the black kettle black.