Month: September 2009

Geek Stuff: Soldering

I’ve watched numerous Make videos

This one is interesting in that Kip says “If you do any kind of soldering at all….”.

Note his soldering skill. He pre-tins the parts then just tacks them together. That boys and girls is called a cold solder joint. In order to get a good connection or alloy you have to bind the parts to be soldered together through mechanical or some other force, then apply the soldering iron. Let it heat for 2 or 3 seconds, then apply solder to the parts not the soldering iron.

It helps if you have a decent soldering station. I’ve got an MPJA special. I love MPJA btw, they may not have EVERYTHING but what they have is very inexpensive. Things like 100 LED’s for < $2.

MJPA Soldering Station

Other useful things are a pair of helping hands. It’s a device with alligator clips on a bar that can slide, pivot, etc. Useful for holding things to be soldered. If you’re doing board work, a printed circuit board holder works well.

Needle nose pliers, diagonal cutters, wire strippers, etc. are also useful.

But supremely useful are the tools to remove solder. Sometimes it can be as simple as a piece of copper wire but there is also copper braid, and solder suckers.

I’m on the fence about fume extractors. I’ve got good ventilation in the office where I do most of my soldering. But while Kay says his cost him about $100 you can get this one from MPJA for about $40 if you’re the paranoid type.

I won’t leave you without what I consider to be a good tutorial video on soldering. It’s really quite easy.

You wouldn’t believe how many videos on YouTube get the soldering part wrong.

I’m just doing my part to make the world a better place.

A Full September – Maker Faire Coming to RI!

If only all of it were billable hours. Instead about a third of them are such.

iPod Calendar
iPod Calendar

Key events:

Maker Faire Rhode Island – held at Slater Millin Pawtucket, RI. Kind of significant where it’s held, after all old Samuel Slater, the father of the industrial revolution in the U.S.

Here’s the whole schedule of events. I plan to hit some of the DIY events.

I’m so glad RI gets a Maker Faire. There’s a fairly high geek contingent here, and of those geeks there are a lot of makers.

Other dates include PEAC meetings. PEAC is Providence Equality Action Committee. It’s a civil rights group focusing on marriage equality at the moment.

Then I’ve got some things going on with MERI (Marriage Equality Rhode Island)

In all a full month. And in October it gets better – I’m definitely going to the October 11th march in Washington, D.C., and other 17th we have a local Providence Marriage Equality march.

Life is always good when there is a lot going on. I love it that way.

Now playing: 2 Live Crew – Mega Mixx III
via FoxyTunes

Geek Stuff: Sorry for the absence

I was offline for most of two days because the screen on my laptop finally gave up the ghost. I’m not surprised, I’d been noticing odd glitches and things for a couple of months and knew it was on the way out.

Luckily I’m fearless when it comes to tearing things apart. Been doing it since I was knee high to a grasshopper and it has served me well when it comes to computers. Of course the key difference, when I was knee high to a grasshopper I didn’t always know how to put them back together. Now I do.

Here’s the thing to keep in mind. About a year and a half ago the going price for a replacement LCD for a laptop was about $400. Three and a half months ago I fixed one for a client and the LCD was $189. The replacement for mine, $109.

The prices on smaller (14.1″ or so) LCD’s is dropping like a rock, so too the price of big LCD’s (42″ or more).

Some pix from the repair:

Computer without LCD:


Broken LCD:

Broken LCD
Broken LCD

LCD Shell




The trick to good prices, get the part number off your broken device and do a google search on it. I got this one from a site called lcds4less. They’re based in Texas of all places, and so too is Dell. The mind boggles. Order shipped overnight as promised and was waiting on my doorstep when I got back home today around 3PM.

The prices run from about $109 at the minimum, $225 for the majority. But it’s still cheaper than getting it from the OEM.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins Laughs Off Uninsured Single Mother (VIDEO)

You know when I think of it, I can remember all the medical procedures done on me when I was a kid. Let’s enumerate them:

As a baby I’d scare the crap out of my mother. I’d spike high fevers, or sleep for days. Off to the doctor. Weird birthmark, doctors, specialists to find out its nothing. Frequent ear infections, strep throat a bunch of times up into my early 20’s, etc.

Luckily my parents had health insurance. As an adult I’ve rung up about $8,000 in visits, scans, etc. for recurring ear issues. Thankfully at the time I had a generous state provided insurance plan.

But now I’m running my own business and I want a public option available if only to keep the over 1,800 insurance providers in the country honest.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Nice little personality assessment

Got this from my friend Darryl.

I take it with some chagrin since Dr. Phil is a first class asshole. I scored a 46 for reference. Fairly accurate.


Below is Dr. Phil’s test.

(Dr. Phil scored 55, he did this test on Oprah and she got a 38..) Some folks pay a lot of Money to find this stuff out!

Read on, this is very interesting!

Don’t be overly sensitive!

The following is pretty accurate and it only takes a few minutes.

Take this test for yourself and send it on to your friends.

Don’t peek, but begin the test as you
Scroll down and answer.

Answers are for who you are now and not who
You were in the past. Have pen or pencil
And paper ready.

This is a real test given by the Human Relations Dept.
At many of the major corporations today. It helps them get better insight concerning their employees and in their prospective employees.

It’s only 10 Simple questions, so grab a pencil and paper, keeping track of your letter answers to each question.

Make sure to change the subject of the email to read YOUR total.

When you are finished, forward this to friends, family, and also send it to the person who sent this to you.

Make sure to put ‘YOUR’ score in the subject box.



1. When do you feel your best….

A) in the morning
B) during the afternoon and early evening
C) late at night

2. You usually walk…

A) fairly fast, with long steps
B) fairly fast, with little steps
C) less fast head up, looking the world in the face
D) less fast, head down
E) very slowly

3.. When talking to people you…

A) stand with your arms folded
B) have your hands clasped
C) have one or both your hands on your hips
D) touch or push the person to whom you are talking
E) ;play with your ear, touch your chin, or smooth your hair

4. When relaxing, you sit with…

A) your knees bent with your legs neatly side by side
B) your legs crossed
C) your legs stretched out or straight
D) one leg curled under you

5. When something really amuses you, you react with…

A) big appreciated laugh
B) a laugh, but not a loud one
C) a quiet chuckle
D) a sheepish smile

6.. When you go to a party or social gathering you…

A) make a loud entrance so everyone notices you
B) make a quiet entrance, looking around for someone you know
C) make the quietest entrance, trying to stay unnoticed

7. You’re working very hard, concentrating hard, and you’re interrupted…

A) welcome the break
B) feel extremely irritated
C) vary between these two e xtremes

8. Which of the following colors do you like most…

A) Red or orange
B) black
C) yellow or light blue
D) green
E) dark blue or purple
F) white
G) brown or gray

9. When you are in bed at night, in those last few moments before going to sleep you are…

A) stretched out on your back
B) stretched out face down on your stomach
C) on your side, slightly curled
D) with your head on one arm
E) with your head under the covers

10. You often dream that you are…

A) falling
B) fighting or struggling
C) searching for something or somebody
D) flying or floating
E) you usually have dreamless sleep
F) your dreams are always pleasant


1. (a) 2 (b) 4 (c) 6
2. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 7 (d) 2 (e) 1
3. (a) 4 (b) 2 (c) 5 (d) 7 (e) 6
4.. (a) 4 (b) 6 (c) 2 (d) 1
5. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 3 (d) 5 (e) 2
6. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 2
7. (a) 6 (b) 2 (c) 4
8. (a) 6 (b) 7 (c) 5 (d) 4 (e) 3 (f) 2 (g) 1
9.. (a) 7 (b) 6 (c) 4 (d) 2 (e ) 1
10 (a) 4 (b) 2 (c) 3 (d) 5 (e) 6 (f) 1

Now add up the total number of points.

OVER 60 POINT: Others see you as someone they should ‘handle with care’. You’re seen as vain, self-centered, and who is extremely dominant. Others may admire you, wishing they could be more like you, but don’t always trust you, hesitating to become too deeply involved with you.

51 TO 60 POINTS: Others see you as an exciting, highly volatile, rather impulsive personality, a natural leader, who’s quick to make decisions, though not always the right ones. They see you as bold and adventuresome, someone who will try anything once, so me one who takes chances and enjoys an adventure. They enjoy being in your company because of the excitement excrement you radiate.

41 TO 50 POINTS: Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting, someone who’s constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding, someone who’ll always cheer them up and help them out.

31 TO 40 POINTS: Others see you as sensible, cautious, careful & practical. They see you as clever, gifted, or talented, but modest. Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who’s extremely loyal to friends you do make and who expect the same loyalty20in return. Those who really get to know you, realize it takes a lot to shake your trust in your friends, but equally that it takes you a long time to get over if that trust is ever broken.

21 TO 30 POINTS: Your friends see you as painstaking and fussy. They see you as very cautious, extremely careful, a slow and steady plodder. It would really surprise them if you ever did something impulsively or on the spur of the moment, expecting you to examine everything carefully from every angle and then, usually decide against it. They think this reaction is caused partly by your careful nature.

UNDER 21 POINTS: People think you are shy, nervous, and indecisive, someone who needs looking after, who always wants someone else to make the decisions and who doesn’t want to get involved with anyone or anything! They see you as a worrier who always sees problems that don’t exist. Some people think you’re boring. Only those who know you well, know that you aren’t.

In which I charge Governor Carcieri of RI with Perjury

We’ve recently become aware that RI Governor Donald Carcieri is going to be the keynote speaker at the Massachusetts Family Institute.

Governor Carcieri has accepted an invitation to headline the annual fundraising banquet for the Massachusetts Family Institute, an advocacy organization that promotes marriage between a man and a woman and considers homosexuality “an unhealthy practice and destructive to individuals, families and society.”

First a little background on the Massachusetts Family Institute.

They hold themselves to be fairly innocuous and even friendly. Look at these points from their about us page:

* Educating families and children about the dangers of unsafe Internet use
* Preventing sexual abuse of children
* Enforcing statutory rape laws
* Strengthening, protecting, and preserving marriage between a man and a woman
* Restricting gambling within the Commonwealth
* Providing resources to help fathers meet the financial and emotional needs of their young families
* Educating children and adults on the spread of dangerous sexually transmitted diseases, and the benefits of sexual abstinence
* MFI is an independent, not-for-profit organization and supported through the generosity of our contributors.

Note the highlighted segment.

And note the abstinence part. Yes hide your heads in the sand and pretend that your teenager won’t know how to have sex. It’s pretty simple, animals do it all the time. Tab A to Slot B and bam, the owner of Slot B is impregnated. All because you taught abstinence instead of human sexuality.

A little further digging finds this:

MFI does not consider homosexual behavior to be merely an alternate lifestyle or sexual “preference”; it is an unhealthy practice and destructive to individuals, families and society. Our compassion for those plagued by same-sex attraction compels us to support the healing of those who wish to change their behavior. MFI strongly opposes any efforts by political activists to normalize homosexual behavior and all attempts to equate homosexuality with benign characteristics such as skin color, or the “gay rights” movement with the civil rights movement.

It is not an alternative lifestyle, it is a life. It is not a sexual preference, using the word preference implies that being gay is a choice. I’d like to ask their membership and our Governor, when did you decide to be heterosexual?

They then go on about healing homosexuality “for those who wish to change.” I’m one recalcitrant homo, I don’t want to change, and I don’t believe in God. Yes I’m a godless gay heathen. You can try changing me whilst staring down the barrel of a gun held by me.

And we’re not trying to equate being gay with anything. What we are asserting is our civil rights under that pesky document, the RI Constitution. I direct you attention to Article 1 Section 2. Granted, it was only inserted in 1986 but it’s still part of our Constitution as it stands.

Section 2. Laws for good of whole — Burdens to be equally distributed — Due process — Equal protection — Discrimination — No right to abortion granted. — All free governments are instituted for the protection, safety, and happiness of the people. All laws, therefore, should be made for the good of the whole; and the burdens of the state ought to be fairly distributed among its citizens. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws. No otherwise qualified person shall, solely by reason of race, gender or handicap be subject to discrimination by the state, its agents or any person or entity doing business with the state. Nothing in this section shall be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the funding thereof.

All laws made for the good of whole. Note, WHOLE. That means everyone. Not just the 90% or so of RI’ers who identify as heterosexual.

Now here’s where the crux of my argument comes in. This is the oath that the Governor has sworn not just once but twice.

Section 3. Oath of general officers. — All general officers shall take the following engagement before they act in their respective offices, to wit: You being by the free vote of the electors of this state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, elected unto the place of do solemnly swear (or, affirm) to be true and faithful unto this state, and to support the Constitution of this state and of the United States; that you will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties of your aforesaid office to the best of your abilities, according to law: So help you God. Or: This affirmation you make and give upon the peril of the penalty of perjury.!

So I now charge RI Governor Carcieri with Perjuring his oath of office. My reasoning behind this is his vociferous opposition to my rights as enumerated in the RI Constitution. By doing this and being the headline speaker for the Massachusetts Family Institute he is in direct violation of not just my rights, but the rights of all GLBT people in RI.

Geek Stuff: Swine Flu

So the Swine flu buzz is starting up again. Time to apply some basic mathematics.

They say that thus far there have been 1,000,000 cases in the Unites States with 500 deaths. That puts the percentage at .0005 or 5/100ths of 1%.

They estimate that roughly 30% to 50% of the general population could potentially be infected. The current U.S. population is about 300,000,000 people so we’ll take the high end of 150,000,000 sick people. Multiply that by .0005 and we get 75,000 dead. Most of those will be the very old and the very young. Extrapolate by 50 states and you get about 1,500 per state. If you want to be more accurate look at the population centers and weight those heavier.

Those of us in the middle will survive.

The regular flu kills anywhere from 36,000 to 63,000 people per year. So it’s a little worse than the regular flu but nothing we can’t handle.

Here are some tips to lessen the risk of flu or Swine flu.

1) First and most importantl: Frequent hand washings with water as hot as you can stand it and for at least 30-50 seconds. Avoid touching you eyes, nose or mouth if at all possible.

2) Alcohol based sterilizing hand cleaners also work very well.

3) Avoid crowded, congested areas of people like malls, theaters, etc.

4) If you or your kids are sick stay home from work/school. And employers, be cognizant that has the potential to be a pandemic and don’t harass people for taking more than 3 days off. One of the things that annoyed me most when I worked in an office environment was people who come to work hacking and sneezing. They ought to be doused in lysol.