Month: May 2015

Fuck the RI Division of Taxation

I do mean that. They’ve got a lot of explaining to do. They snatched close to $4,000 in tax refund money from both my state and federal returns. One of them for a tax liability from 2007. Yeah – just before the 7 year limit ran up they do that little SURPRISE thing.

I should go play PowerBall tonight. If I won the first thing I’d do is hire an army of lobbyists to take apart the Rhode Island Division of Taxation. I’m sure I could get some people with money to help me do it.

Amazon Movie Recommendations

So I’ve had Amazon Prime for 3 months now. The video recommendations make me laugh.

Some are really relevant to me, while others get a big What the Fuck from me.

For example – one of the suggestions was God’s Not Dead. I suppose I should watch it and critique it. But that’s already been done ad infinitum.

Again apologies for the geeky stuff

I notice whenever I post something that goes off into the geekiness of electronics it flies over the heads of just about everyone who reads this blog.

Its just that i post about stuff that interests me. And you have to admit this looks pretty cool as well as being a significant upgrade to the capabilities I have now.

You have to admit it’s gorgeous. Just 12 inches wide, 6 inches high and a bit under 5 inches deep. And all of about 7lbs. And it’s a 7″ LCD screen – most scopes are 5″. Plus full color. I guess you have to with four channels but it’s a beauty and represents a leap forward in capabilities. This sucker even has math functions built in. And it’s easily hackable up to a 100MHz bandwidth scope. Plus it hooks up to an ethernet network, you can stick a USB stick in and capture screens as png files, all in all it may be a budget scope but it’s packed with features. Can’t wait until it gets here.

I’m reading through the manual for it now – pretty standard fare for a scope.

New Oscilloscope coming

So I have been looking to replace my venerable old Tektronix 465 20MHz oscilloscope. The Tek 465 is a heavy beast and the limited bandwidth sort of makes it less useful. Granted it is a dual channel scope. I’ll put it up on Craislist for $10 and see if I get any takers.

I’ve looked at Owon, Rigol, and a few other vendors. I settled on the Rigol DS1054Z. It’s a 4 channel 50MHz scope. And the hack is already out there to turn it into a 100MHz scope with a simple procedure.

For $399 it’s not a bad deal. Be very useful for some of the radio and oscillator projects I’m planning on building too. Plus two advantages it has over the Tek 465: the first is a 7″ color display, and then the two extra ports. Also has USB, and network connections too. Plus the form factor – it’s about 1/4 the size of the Tek 465 and weighs considerably less.

click to see bigger version

Just for comparison here’s a Tek 465 with the covers off. It’s huge and heavy.

The Rigol weighs all of 7 pounds. The Tek 465 tipped the scales at about 25-30lbs. So you can see how the Rigol will be a better scope for me.

New Deep Fryer

So a while back I bought a Fry Baby deep fry unit. It was good for proof of concept. But it’s limitations became readily apparent when I tried to do Scotched Eggs. If you’re not familiar it’s a soft boiled egg with sausage wrapped around it and then battered and fried. They’re fantastic. One egg is enough per person.

Anyhow I made four of them. Had to do one at a time in the little deep fryer.

The Fry Baby could contain maybe 500-700ml of oil. The new one is 3 liters.

Big enough to put about 3lbs of stuff in at a shot.

Now the quest for Peanut Oil in large quantity. I love frying in peanut oil.

So lo and behold, USPS delivers

So I got a call from the Amazon vendor today. They contacted my post office and got them to deliver the package. And there was nothing wrong with the address label. They just didn’t want to deliver the item.

This is new behavior on the part of USPS. But as I alluded in a prior post – part of the problem is the Postal Service is hiring what are essentially temp employees.

USPS missed the boat. They should have seen that net connections would reduce the volume of mail pieces and diversified, say into banking, or improving package services. But they chose to continue down the same path. At some point they’ll just become another package carrier with the same shitty attitude like that of UPS or Fedex.

Never talk to your post office

Because when you do you find out it’s essentially a cluster fuck.

My latest two odysseys with the United States Postal Service include one where I shipped an item, and one where an item was shipped to me.

In the case of the former a 3 day delay was inserted into the process by a sort facility in Greensboro, NC. Just so happened those three days were on fin de semana or Weekend. I told the USPS CSR it sure like they shut down shop for the weekend. She insisted that they didn’t so I asked then what could be the cause for the item to be 250 miles from the destination and just sit there for the better part of three days? That was an entertaining conversation in which it emerged that Priority Mail 3 day is a best effort, no real guarantees but it IS fully tracked.

Now the latter – a pair of clippers for plants and flowers from Amazon. I check the status on Amazon, it was supposed to be delivered yesterday but I check the status and I see Undeliverable – invalid address.

But better – the item had gone through full sort – got into my local post office, went through secondary sort and got put on the truck for delivery. So the address label had to fly to get through that.

But talking with the local Post Office – the other factor emerger – the USPS uses a fuck ton of temporary workers. So it’s entirely likely that my item had a munged label where the ZIP+4 was present and the track number was there so it just slipped through the system.

But here’s the thing – that track number and zip code are enough to deliver the package.

USPS doesn’t do themselves any favors by putting all the information they do on tracked items. Because that’s how I surmised this whole thing.

Pharma Gone Mad: Latuda

So I’m watching on Hulu and an ad comes up for the bipolar medicine called Latuda. First the name – that’s rife for a joke I’m sure. But one of the side effects of Latuda is death, I kid you not. Death.

I’d call Death something more than a side effect.

Pharma has gone absolutely mad. How can you think Death is potentially better than being bipolar?

So the USPS 3 day priority mail is a BEST EFFORT ESTIMATE?

What the ever loving hell? Shipped a package down to North Carolina last Wednesday. Package cleared RI postal within 3 hours of acceptance and went into Raleigh. Raleigh tossed it to Greensboro, NC at 10:13AM on Friday. And then the package SAT in Greensboro until this morning.

The postal service in the south ain’t shit. Up here as I said – From acceptance to outbound was 3 hours. Down there it sits for 3 days. This jibes with a study I participated in several years ago. It was a mail accuracy study and at the end the results were shared with all participants. The northeast and west coast handled mail like nobodies business. The south sucked even then and it hasn’t gotten any better.

So I call USPS about this 5 to 6 day 3 day package. That’s when I found out it’s a best effort to meet three days. But it’s pretty clear the package sat in Greensboro, NC from Friday morning until this morning. What the fuck?