Keurig de-scaling schedule

Posted by Jonathan on July 30th, 2011 filed in Uncategorized
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Keurig home coffee-makers should be de-scaled regularly.  How often depends on how hard your water is.  I found the user guide lacking in that it didn’t have anywhere for me to make a note of when I de-scaled it so I generated one.  It’s also got a line to note purchase date and warranty expiry.

There are two pages with de-scaling instructions for the different machines (instructions were copied from here

Just print it out, cut out the correct page and stick it inside the flap of your instruction manaul.  Here it is: Keurig_coffee_maker_de-scaling_schedule

5 ways to actually save money in this crazy economy

Posted by Jonathan on March 7th, 2010 filed in spending less
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  1. Choose your home phone provider carefully.  Possible bill reduction… $50-$100 down to $0-$25
    Assuming you can get/have decided to keep your Internet broadband connection consider choosing a Voice-over-IP provider.  many of the cable companies are providing them as part of their bundles.  If you call internationally consider Vonage or Ooma – the international rates from the cable companies tend to suck.
  2. Take a shopping list to the grocery store.  Inrestrospect this has saved us $20 a trip.
    There’s a great fast tutorial on using shopping lists on Rachael Ray’s site: saving time and money at the supermarket.
  3. Just stop buying stuff!  Upside: $0-$your income
    Every time you are buying something step back and think “why am I buying this?”
  4. Ditch the paid TV!  Possible savings: $50-$200 or more/month (that’s $2400/year!)
    I know this may sound impossible to some but it can be done.  It takes a patience to wait for movies to come out at the nearest RedBox and many may think they can’t live without there shows.  But it can be done… and of course broadcast TV is still available – and local channels are often broadcast in HD now – these look fantastic with the right antenna.
  5. If you’re a book lover/buyer use to buy your books – it’s easy to search for a specific book and you can typically find significant discounts.  Again a little patience is required.

The floppy is actually dead but hasn’t really gone away

Posted by Jonathan on January 6th, 2008 filed in vintage computing
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It lives!  It lives!!

The floppy, popularised in it’s 3.5″ format by Sony in the early 80’s has died.  New PC’s don’t come with floppy drives, laptops dumped floppies for CD-ROMs years ago and it’s getting harder and harder to find even USB floppy drives in the big box stores.  My 11 year-old takes a USB flash drive to and from school and current version of my wife’s embroidery machine has a USB port instead of the floppy drive.

But we don’t seem to have found a replacement for the iconic 3.5″ floppy.

Witness Windows Vista’s journal utility… the floppy icon is still there for the “Save” action.


Of course this is a general “save to some media” icon – it doesn’t mean that it’s only “save to floppy” or even only “save to removable media”.


It’s save to hard drive, floppy drive, CD-writeable, DVD-writeable, flash drive, SD card, XD card, even internet site, blog.


Who knows what next we’ll be saving our documents to?


Quantum drives?  The ever-promised-but-never-quite-delivered Internet drive?


So what should the “new save icon” be?


What represents a generic “save” operation?


Should it be the now ubiquitous USB drive?


Of course, this assumes that we will actually need a “save” command….

Proposals welcome!

I hate IKEA lighting – the under cabinet light saga

Posted by Jonathan on January 6th, 2008 filed in diy

It may be I’ve just had bad luck but I refuse to buy any more of the stuff.  Almost all the IKEA lighting pieces have turned out to be crap in one way or another.

The last to be ditched were a set of IKEA “NON” undercabinet lights.  They looked innocent enough –  little round halogen undercabinet lamps with a transformer and some low voltage wiring.

Unfortunately each transformer only powered 2 lights which mean installing a power strip in the cupboard where the transformers were going to hide out.  (I wanted a total of 5 lights which meant 3 transformers/power bricks).

Good point #1: They installed easily enough.

Good point #2: They were bright when they worked.

The bulbs KEPT blowing.  They blew so frequently there was always one not working in the kitchen.  (And yes, they had been installed per instructions and should have been fine in this location).  Being halogens, they run pretty hot – meaning that they warmed the underneath of the cabinets – and in turn meaning that the top surface of the bottom cabinet shelf also got warm.  Not dangerously so but enough that you wouldn’t want to keep chocolate just above the light.

The next problem was that the plastic surrounds started to become more and more brittle (presumably from the heat).  This then let to the little plastic clips breaking and in fact one simply disintegrated in my hands while I was attempting to change the bulb (remember this is a frequent requirement).

These are the IKEA lights after being removed (these were in free air and the vents were not blocked).


Notice the burn marks on the plastic wire shroud on the left hand lamp and the melted and broken plastic on the brittle lamp on the right.


The solution – a decent set of Xenons

I finally gave up and bought a set of WAC lighting HR-88 Xenons from YLighting.  I had read that Xenons run significantly cooler than halogens – leading to a longer lifespan for the bulbs.  Since I was desperate to get away from the continuous bulb replacement cycle the Xenons were attractive and I figured worth paying the price of a couple of years of replacement bulbs for.


The WAC HR-88 lights are all metal, glass and ceramic – so no more plastic to disintegrate into plastic crumbs.  In addition the wires are shrouded in heat resistant sleeving – another good sign.  They don’t have a plug-in solution like the IKEA lights but it really isn’t rocket science to pop them into a connector block and feed them in to the transformer.

The lamps themselves are easy to install… they can be flush or surface mounted.  Since our cabinets have a lip at the bottom (and the bottom shelf isn’t thick enough) I surface mounted them.  The lamps are the perfect height to be hidden behind the lip.


With the Xenon lamps I also ordered a 100W 12V transformer which could run all of the 5 Xenons from one power outlet.

We love the WAC Xenons.  They are all still in perfect condition and I haven’t had to replace a single bulb yet.  I am now disappointed I’d ordered a box of replacement bulbs.

The Xenon project ran around $120 for the transformer and 5 Xenon lamp units – so they’re more expensive than the IKEA lamps (priced to sell sell sell).  The difference is night and day though – these are obviously built to last!

The dinky NETGEAR PS101 mini-print server

Posted by Jonathan on December 26th, 2007 filed in home networking
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I switched our laser (Samsung ML-1740) back to this little diddly this week having finally finished the wiring closed and hooked up the Ethernet ports in my office.  It isn’t a wireless gadget but still fits nicely in our network.

 The PS101 comes with software to find and configure any number of NETGEAR print servers on your network.  Each device is pre-programmed with a unique name and this can be used for setup and routing.  It can also be configured to take a specific IP or use DHCP.  I have two ranges of IPs on our network – one reserved for completely dynamic IPs and one where I assign specific IPs for the DHCP server to hand out (I found that this makes for an easier life if network components are rebooted in different orders and helps prevent IP clashes).

So I configured the PS101 for dynamic IP and locked it to in the DHCP configuration of the DCHP server (so it will always be given 105 when it requests an IP address).

By doing this, you don’t need any software installed on Windows XP machines to print through the device.  The easiest way is to connect the printer directly, let Windows set it up then change the printer port to a new TCP/IP port and simply type in the IP address.  Seamless.  Easy and quick.  Couldn’t ask for more.

How to load a dishwasher – part 2 (the dreaded nestle)

Posted by Jonathan on September 20th, 2007 filed in dishwashers
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Must not nestle!

Dishwashers clean but shooting water onto and past the dishes and cutlery (silverware).  If the water can’t reach each surface effectively the object may not get clean.

It’s essential to avoid ‘nestle’ in the cutlery (silverware) basket.  A good example of the nestle problem is spoons – two identical spoons cupped within each other prevent good water flow across the surface of the spoons.

To avoid ‘nestle’ I use the following techniques: 

  • Placing a mix of spoons, forks and knives (eg) in each of the basket compartments.  (A knife and spoon are much less likely to nestle than two spoons.)
  • If there are multiple of similar items (eg 2 forks) in one compartment then I place some tines down and some tines up – again reducing the chance of ‘nestle’.

Calgon white hole?

Posted by Jonathan on September 18th, 2007 filed in dishwashers
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What on earth happened to powdered Calgon?   Some laundry squirrel pulled all the boxes of powdered Calgon off the shelves and replaced them with liquid Calgon.  (I use powdered Calgon water softener in my dishwasher because it helps keep it running clean and streak-free).


Of course it is available online but the shipping is as much as the product itself.

Is there no powdered Calgon left in San Diego county? 

MSN/Windows Live Hotmail upgrade danger for HTTPMail access?

Posted by Jonathan on September 8th, 2007 filed in Hotmail, Microsoft
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As reported in The Register Hotmail is upgrading us all to a shiny new MSN Live Hotmail.

Hotmail Live upgradeAnd, no, you don’t get a choice.  Microsoft is generously offering to upgrade automatically me in the near future so I gave in and upgraded today.  At least this gives me a chance to deal with fallout over the weekend rather than hitting problems receiving critical emails during the week. 

Since I have had a paid Hotmail account for years I have been using Outlook Express to access my online Hotmail folders directly (OE sets up easily – it already knows how to connect to Hotmail once you select HTTP server for a new account).  As such I rarely use the web interface.

I had looked for guidance as to whether the upgrade impacted HTTP support but found none.  Yeah, sure it works with Outlook but I don’t care – all my personal email is managed through OE.  Well, the good news is – it does still work.  Seamlessly – I had to change nothing – upgraded and kept going.  Thanks Microsoft – you didn’t screw me today.

Of course I did try out the new interface.  I like it (on broadband) – it’s fast, it introduces context sensitive right click functionality (less clicks per operation) and even up-down keys work on the Inbox.

How to load a dishwasher – part 1 (cutlery)

Posted by Jonathan on August 18th, 2007 filed in dishwashers
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This obviously simple topic simply drives me nuts when it isn’t done right.  It’s just not that hard … well at least it isn’t when you’ve made all the mistakes at least once.  Astonishingly enough, this simple topic will cover a series of posts.  I’m sure all too frequently the dishwasher gets blamed for various failures – it’s only a tool with limitations.


  • Throw all the silverware (cutlery for us Brits) in the silverware rack and hope for the best.


  • Try to put your sharp knives in their own compartment.
    • Why?  When the dishwasher runs, the cutlery moves.  The sharp edge of your (previously) sharp knife drags across all it’s little pals in the same compartment, slowly blunting it.  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday it’ll no longer be a menace to an innocent vegetable.
  • Place sharp knives point downards.
    • Maybe I’m the only one dumb enough to have skewered myself when unloading.  If so, feel free to ignore this tip.
  • Separate knives, spoons, forks as much as possible.
    • Why?  The worst culprits are spoons.  Nestle them together and the washing spray isn’t able to dislodge all the crud packed between the nestled spoons.  Couple with an 11 year old unloading at a rapid pace and you have a little surprise waiting for your next dinner guest.  My strategy is to divvy up the forks (eg) between each compartment, same with the spoons, same with the knives.  When I have more forks than compartments I simply invert every other fork so I have one prongs down and one prongs up in each compartment.  It’s just as quick to throw in this way and prevents the dreaded “nestling”.
  • Watch out for that scrappy little spoon.
    • We have one spoon which given the chance will slip through the bottom of the silverware rack, catching the spray arm mid-rotation and causing half-arsed cleaning.

Simple eh?

Something tells me they don’t plan on paying

Posted by Jonathan on August 2nd, 2007 filed in fubar, health care
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Health Insurance Appeal Bounced in the mail

So the health insurance plan decides not to pay for one of the kids annual check-ups.  Exact same check-up, same doctors’ office, both covered on the plan, all in-network but different kid.

Why?  Who knows.  Looks wrong to me so I write up a long (of course polite) diatribe explaining exactly where I think they didn’t quite hit the mark in assessing our coverage and mail it off to their claims centre in AZ.  Figured I’d get a letter back explaining why they thought I was wrong and my second kid was somehow different and special and didn’t warrant the same health coverage as my first kid.

But no, I get the letter back intact with big black print all over it


And now I recall they recently closed the AZ R&D site.  Seems like they blew away the health care guys in the process.  Now either they’re gone gone or they landed elsewhere and didn’t update the website yet.

Emailing them now (hope the email address still works).

Gotta love working for a company in the middle of a downsize.  Sorry, “re-alignment”.

Update 8/6/2007:

Apparently they’re still out there… somewhere – since somebody replied to the email “yes, we know it’s a problem”.

Evidently not a big enough problem to actually do something about but at least they offered to take the appeal by fax… here goes…