So Saturday morning around 3am (I know the exact time because we were up with Nolan) I kept hearing this weird noise. It sounded like a fast vibration without the actual vibrating that lasted for about 5 seconds then there would be a clicking sound and then it would stop. Five or ten minutes later I'd hear it again. Usually Rachelle hears every little noise in the house and reports them to me while I'm trying to sleep, but she didn't hear this one. As long as it wasn't the furnace or the refrigerator I would've been happy.
During breakfast that morning I heard it a couple of times but it always stopped before I could get an ear around to find where it was coming from. Finally I found it, on the floor at the back of the refrigerator, right where the compressor is. We called a local appliance repair place and found that they would come out and diagnose the problem for a very reasonable price. At that point you could decide to fix it or replace it. I knew the compressor was bad, but a second opinion from someone who knows more about these things was a good idea. He came out a few hours later and confirmed that the compressor was toast.
We looked up the model and serial number and found that it was 13 years old and the compressor only had a 10 year warranty on it, assuming we could find the sales receipt and I don't think the previous owner left that for us. The repair guy said it would probably be around $600 for the part and labor and that in most circumstances it wasn't worth trying to save. So after nap time we packed everyone up and went to Sears to look at new refrigerators.
We were able to get a very decent deal on a new french-door style one that was much bigger internally but the same physical size. I was even able to get them to deliver it on Monday when originally the only timeslot they had was on Thursday. I guess bringing your 3 year old and 1 month old to the store helps when trying to get something fast. Rachelle's only requirement being that it has ice/water dispenser. Our old one did not, so I have to run the water line, should be fun.
We probably spent more than we should have, but we're going to be using this for the next decade or so, we might as well get something that we like.
So I have a new issue with my '99 Subaru Legacy Outback: the check-valve for the power brake booster is sticking when the car sits in very cold weather. Or at least that's what I think is happening.
The point of this valve is to only let air flow one direction between the intake manifold and the booster. The manifold applies vacuum to the booster to "power" it enabling brake assist. So when the engine is off there is no vacuum present and no power brakes. This is bad in the cases when you're tooling along on the highway and your engine dies. So they put this check-valve in the middle to hold vacuum in the booster should it suddenly disappear on the manifold side. It gives you about 2 pedal pushes worth of brake assist and then you have to stomp on the pedal like in the dark ages.
Recently in the morning and when I leave school at 3:30 I have a couple stops worth of assisted brakes and then the third time I step on the pedal it's very hard to stop the car. This last for a few seconds and then the valve breaks free and the pedal drops an inch or so and I have normal brakes again. No big deal, I know how to live with it, but Rachelle would die if she drove my car and encountered this situation.
As far as I can tell the valve is located in the middle of the air hose (highlighted in red below). There is a small bump in the hose similar to a snake that just ate a mouse.
I haven't decided what to do about yet. I could replace the hose and valve ($34 from the dealer), but I'm not sure it's defective - it could be a positioning problem. When the car is warm and suddenly cools condensation can form in there and freeze on the valve itself causing it to stick. A new valve wouldn't stop this. I'm wondering if I can reposition the host slightly so the valve is at the highest point so the condensation runs away from it rather than down onto it. I'll have to play around for a few. Looking at that picture it looks like the valve already is the high point, but I'll have to stick my head in there to see. I'm also racing the weather on this one, once it's above freezing I have a feeling the problem will go away.
With how pervasive virtualization technologies are now, hosting companies are able to offer virtual private servers (VPS) at very low prices. They basically carve up a huge server into smaller virtual chunks that are all independent of each other. You have complete control over it and can even reload the operating system in about 10 minutes with one click in the management website.
I used to host a server in my basement for my email and a couple websites and various other things. Now you can get a VPS with 2GB of memory, 50GB of disk space and connected to the internet at gigabit speeds for like $5 a month! At this price-point it just makes more sense for me to move my websites (including this one) to one of these servers since I can do anything I want on them, not just host sites.
I even found one to use as a proxy or virtual private network (VPN) that's located in Canada for $12 a year. It's a very low end server (128MB memory), but for a proxy it's perfect. And when connected to it, all my traffic exits to the internet in Canada from an address not associated with me in any way. This is important because if I were to download something copyrighted, the MPAA or RIAA would not be able to contact my Internet Service Provider about it, but instead some hosting company in another country where US laws don't apply. Not that I would ever do anything like that though...
Should you be interested in a cheap server to play around with, http://lowendbox.com is a great place to start.
Well after 10 months, he's finally here! Born at 6:40pm on February 22nd, 2013 - weighing 9lbs 12oz and 21 inches long.
His due date came and went with no signs he was ready or wanted out. Rachelle had another ultrasound to check a few things and they calculated him at 10lbs (plus or minus 10%!), so they decided to induce her.
I've really been lazy when it come to updating this website, so this is kind of old news; he turned 1 month old today.
He's the spitting image of Claire when she was his age, even came out with white-blonde hair (explains all the heartburn toward the end). He's an eater though. Claire was a total bird and never really ate anything. I gave him his first bottle today and he sucked down 2oz in about 10 minutes. That would've taken Claire about a half hour.
He's been doing a decent chunk of sleep at night, from 10pm to like 3am. Today at his appointment the doctor said we can just let him dictate when he wants to eat, so hopefully he'll be sleeping through the night soon.
Very early yesterday morning (like 3am) I was woken up to the news that there was "a noise" every time the wind blew. It was a very windy night, I think I heard about 60mph gusts. Once I was awake enough to think about what I was hearing I knew it was the old flue for the original furnace. There was a rain-cap on it and the wind popped 2 of the 3 rivets holding it on so it would flap in the wind banging around all night.
In the morning I saw this from the ground:
Eventually during the morning it disconnected completely and I found it on the ground in the back yard.
So I collected all the tools I needed and went out to get the right sized cap to seal it off and formulated a plan for getting up on the roof. I've never been on the tallest part of our roof, and getting up there was not easy. I needed to go out my bedroom window onto the garage roof and then use a ladder from that roof onto the big one. For that, I needed someone to hold the ladder. There were still some very strong wind gusts and my ladder is not very sturdy. I called around to a few friends and finally got someone who could help me out for 10 minutes.
It might look like a nice day up on that roof, but it was about 20 degrees with very high winds. And to add a level of urgency to the whole situation, it was supposed to start snowing later that day and with the cap off there was a direct 7 inch conduit from outside into my basement.
This flue was for the original furnace that has since been replaced. The only thing this flue is used for is for running cables (cat5 and coax) from the basement to the attic to get them into the upstairs bedrooms. Sometime in the near future I'm going to take this flue out (at least the part through the roof) and I'd like to install a hatch for roof access. My dad put one in his roof and it's very handy for things like cleaning gutters.
I'm happy with the way this turned out, and the fact that I didn't die on the roof, but I would have liked it if this happened at 8am rather than 3am keeping Rachelle up all night.
Wow, I've been super lazy when it comes to my website lately. I keep telling myself that there really isn't anything going on worth posting about, but in reality there is all sorts of stuff going on that you might be interested in.
Last year my New Year's resolution was to update this site more often. As with most resolutions, that was a colossal failure. And again as with most resolutions people tend to make the same ones over and over again in hopes that they'll stick with it. So, I'll give this another shot.
My new strategy though will be updating more frequently but smaller updates. I used to hold off until I had something with pictures and all sorts of details and it just ended up taking a lot of time that I don't really have anymore. We'll see how this goes.
I'd like to share a recent experience.
At work we've been using Sprint as our cellular carrier for many years. This goes back to the days of Nextel and their push-to-talk (iDEN) network. Back then the maintenance guys were the only people with school issued phones and they used them as walkie-talkies when available and cellular phones when not. Sprint purchased Nextel and more and more people start getting phones, then Blackberries, then Droids and iPhones.
Sprint hasn't had the best coverage in this area and when they decommissioned all the old Nextel iDEN towers back in May they promised the coverage would get better because all of those towers would be converted to Sprint towers. I'm still waiting for it to get better. In fact not only did the cellular coverage not get better, all of our Nextel push-to-talk (PTT) phones got replaced with Sprint PTT phones and their PTT network is worse than the Nextel one ever was. At least now the patents on that PTT service have expired and all carriers now offer it.
A couple days ago my Sprint HTC Evo 3D phone gave up on life. I had been having battery-life problems for months and recently many processes like "google search" or other very useful apps would refuse to run and crash all the time. On that morning I went to work and the phone rebooted on its own, like it does every few days, but this time it never came back up. It would just reboot and reboot and reboot. Pulling the battery didn't help. Doing a factory reset didn't help either. I saw this as an opportunity to switch from Sprint and get a company that would actually work for me. My phone was over a year old (the contract length for Gov't/Education accounts) and we already had an open Verizon account for a certain admin's iPad, so I figured I would just not renew with Sprint and go with Verizon.
First I call my Verizon rep to find out what I have to do to get a new phone ASAP and port my number. His number now belongs to someone else. I call the main Verizon support number and after many transfers I get to someone in the Gov/Ed department who can tell me who my current rep is. I tell him I need a phone that day so he says to go to a retail store to get the phone. I drove out to the nearest Verizon store and waited about 15 minutes for someone to help me just to find out that government accounts can't be touched at the stores. You'd think the guy in that department would know this and not send me on a fool's errand. By this time I'm rather annoyed and the nice lady at the store says she can get me a phone and have them switch it onto our account later when I talk to my rep, but I'd have to pay for the phone myself. That wasn't going to happen.
So after a wasted hour+ I was back on the phone, this time with my rep. The best he could do was get me a phone overnighted (by 10am). He asked for the info on our current Sprint account, including the account number and password so they can port the number.
The next day I get an email from someone in the port center saying they need a 6-10 digit PIN in order to port my number. I don't have any such PIN. I called my Sprint rep to find out Sprint has beefed-up their security and had all their customers created PINs for their accounts. Nobody at Harley created a PIN so Sprint generated one for us and never bothered to tell us. My Sprint rep said the best he could do is have them (snail) mail me the PIN which could take multiple business days. At this point I called Sprint's help center and started trying to get them to change our PIN. Obviously they needed the current PIN in order to change it. They said they could authenticate the account by talking to the main point-of-contact associated with the account. I asked who that was and was told me they couldn't tell me. I asked what number they have for this person and was told they couldn't tell me that either! This is a business where people get hired and quit/retire all the time, and they expect the same person to be the point of contact from like 10 years ago. I did get them to say yes/no to a few names and found out who the POC is, but the number they had for this person was not the correct number. After arguing some more I got them to update the POC's number with the correct one and call him. He wasn't able to answer any of their security questions. I finally had to threaten them with moving all 25 phone lines to a different carrier if they didn't get with the program and reset the PIN. Once they imagined that money fly out of their pockets they were more than happy to reset our PIN so I could port my one number away from them.
I couldn't believe how difficult it was to get this done. Yes, I understand they're trying to make things secure, but asking questions like "what street did you grow up on" to someone representing a business is just stupid. And no, the street the business is located on was not the answer to that question.
So now I'm the proud owner of a new Motorola Razr Maxx HD on a network where I can actually make and receive calls in my home/work area.