About Me

My photo

Tech journalist since the dark ages. Windows Secrets, LangaList newsletter, Windows Magazine (NetGuide, Home PC), Byte, Popular Computing, yadda yadda yadda. Google me, if it matters.

This feed is mostly personal interest; it's NOT my professional writing. There's tech here, yes, but also lots of general science and some politics and weird humor thrown in.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

TIL a new, relevant word.

TIL a new word, relevant to the news. “Paltering’’: deceiving others with the creative assembly of accurate statements.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Watch her double take.. :)


Merkel and Trump...


Friday, March 17, 2017

But let's cut meals on wheels first, ok? Sheesh.

Trump is on pace to cost more in one year than Obama did during his entire presidency.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Much better!


Hawk’s Lunch

I was pounding out my usual exercise loop today, up the modest hill of “Waitt’s Mount” and back, when I saw a hawk land in a tree while carrying something in its left talon.

Short video: https://youtu.be/mBkoU2K05QA

If nature red in, um, beak and claw offends you, this video may not make your favorites list. It’s nothing horrible or gory, but simply note that “Hawk’s Lunch” is in no way an allegorical title. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Notes from the Flood, Part 5


By the way, I was wrong when I prevoiusly described “three exhaust fans, one circulating fan, two industrial blowers, an industrial dehumidifier, and the heating system are all simultaneously running in our apartment.”

I should have said, “three exhaust fans, one circulating fan, THREE industrial blowers, an industrial dehumidifier, and the heating system are all simultaneously running in our apartment.”

The third blower was tucked in a closet; I missed it on my initial look.

But it still can be heard, even with the door closed.

Today, the crew just came through along with an engineer from the management company that owns the building. He used a moisture-meter, and found a few spots still above ambient moisture; another day of drying (and noise) ought to do it.

Reconstruction is scheduled to begin Thursday.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Notes from the Flood, Part 4

Notes from the Flood, Part 4


 They’re predicting 9-10 days before we’re mostly done; +/-2 weeks to full completion.

 One section of ceiling, and several baseboard sections of interior walls, have been removed to allow the interior cavities to dry. There’ll be 1-2 more days with blowers/dehumidifiers. Then reconstruction will start, followed by the usual wallboard/joint paste/drying/sanding/painting and all that. In about 2 weeks, they’ll come in and shampoo the rugs.

The building manager said that due to a quirk in building construction, the apartment directly above us was the worst-damaged --- even worse than the apartment where the flood started. Our vertical neighbors’ loss was our gain; they took the brunt of the hit, and diverted much of the flow away from us.

So, it could have been worse. Sigh.

Massachusetts just had its first February tornado in recorded history.

After record heat this weekend, Massachusetts just had its first February tornado in recorded history.

Nah. Climate's fine. Nothing to see here. Move along.


Notes from the Flood, Part 3






There. That’s better.

The crew has already stopped by this AM to check the preliminary drying, and to give an ETA --- early afternoon --- for starting whatever demolition work will need to be done.

With luck, it won’t be much.

We’re still staying here for now, but reserve the option of moving to a motel, depending on the scale of any demo work.

The fans are hassle; it was a very long and noisy night. We turned off the loudest blower, but it still was very loud. I estimate at least another day of drying; and maybe more if the demo crew says it’s still wet inside the wall cavities. The fans may be reason enough to relocate in themselves; just for sleeping.

We’ll see what the demo crew finds this afternoon.

OK, I’m heading back in, now. I know I have a set of earplugs around here somewhere.

Ready? I’m opening the door now.


Notes from the Flood, Part 2

Notes from the Flood, Part 2 (2-17-02-26)

As I type this, five separate water-damage restoration crews are still working on floors above us. They're part way through three of the five affected apartments.

It's becoming clear they won't get to us until sometime tomorrow.

They haven't even finished with the first, flood point-of-origin apartment, which now looks like this (below); it and the two floors below it have now been gutted.

We'll see what happens to our soggy place tomorrow.

Point-of-origin apartment 12 hours after the flood:

Notes from the Flood, Part 1

Notes from the Flood, Part 1 (2017-02-26) Around 4:15 this morning, our building’s fire alarm went off.

We didn’t know it then but, four floors above us, a sprinkler-head in an unoccupied apartment had failed. The sprinkler was full on, spewing as much water as its 120psi fire main could deliver.

For reference, 120 PSI --- 8.2 bar; 827 KPa --- is between four and eight times the standard US household water pressure. We’re talking a *lot* of water.

But again, that was unknown to anyone, at the time.

The building manager and the fire department responded to the alarm. With no actual fire detected, they turned off the strobes and buzzers and reset the system.

But a software reset doesn’t cure a hardware failure: water continued to pour into the unoccupied apartment.

A short while later, the ongoing heavy drain on the fire system triggered a second alarm.

By then, the building manager was getting panicked calls from apartments below the one with the sprinkler problem; water was starting to cascade down the stack.

After about 15 minutes --- 15 minutes of full-on 120 PSI flooding from a malfunctioning fire sprinkler --- they finally disabled and depressurized the fire system.

But then, four stories below the original problem, we started to hear small taps and noises in the bedroom ceiling. At first I thought: Mice. And: Shit.

Nope. It was the first droplets of a growing flood.

We spent the first few frantic hours moving clothes around, bagging things, covering others in plastic --- because we had no idea how bad the flooding might get.

The dripping/flowing water began subsiding in a hour or so, and finally stopped after about 4 hours. There’s still seepage coming out from the flooded walls.

Our place is in disarray --- chaos, really --- but our stuff is OK. So far, none of our possessions appears to be harmed. The damage is all to the apartment itself.

The building management has been pretty good so far. Fire/Flood restoration units were here by 7AM, and they’re now ripping sodden carpets out of the floors above us. As I write this, heavy bundles of wet carpet are hitting the sidewalk outside my window every few minutes.

They’re working down the stack, top to bottom, which makes sense. They’ll get to our apartment in a few hours. They’ll vacuum the standing water, remove the saturated carpet, set up industrial dehumidifiers and blowers, and open up several suspect walls. At least one section of ceiling has to come down. The maintenance guy said it’d take “maybe a week” for the whole process, because five apartments are having to be done at the same time --- and ours actually has the least amount of damage.

Once we see what they do today, and how much de/reconstruction is needed, we’ll decide where to spend the rest of the week.

For the moment, we’re camping in our second bedroom, which is dry. I'm killing time, waiting for the workmen to arrive. Dolly's snoozing --- it was a *very* short night.

Going forward, we have the option of moving to a nearby midrange chain motel, at the building owner’s expense. Our own insurance also has a “loss of use” clause, which may apply.

There are other complications, such as what to do with the cat while all this goes on.

But, stay or go, it’s shaping up to be quite a week!