January 2005

Tankless water heater info?

by Michael Alderete on 1/31/2005 · 27 comments

Our water heater tank has sprung a slow leak, and today the plumber said it would need to be replaced. We’re lucky, usually when a water heater goes, it goes fast, failing catastrophically, lots of water everywhere. You have to replace it immediately, no time for research.

In our case, it’s a slow enough leak (from the top, no less) that we can take a couple days to figure out what to do. And one thing we’re considering is getting a tankless water heater, probably the Bosch AquaStar 250SX.

Searching the blogosphere, I don’t see anyone writing about meaningful experiences with this or any of the alternatives. Anyone know someone with a tankless water heater, especially if they are very happy or very sad with it?

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Quotation of the year candidate

by Michael Alderete on 1/28/2005 · 1 comment

Regarding photos of a recent night out…

“How bad was it?”

“It wasn’t that bad. We all kept our clothes on.”

Which, if we’re being honest, has not always been the case…

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10 minute projects take 3 hours

by Michael Alderete on 1/24/2005

Don’t you hate those projects you start, thinking they will take 10 minutes?

I just spent almost 3 hours fixing the dining room light switch, after my 5 minute “project” to replace two dead bulbs turned into a trip to the hardware store to get new bulbs (30 minutes), and then turned into disassembling the switch because the light wouldn’t come on, discovering that the ancient wiring insulation was crumbling, and then fixing it with heat-shrink insulating tubing (60 minutes, including all the trips to the circuit breaker to turn the current on and off), and sanding the wiring to take off some corrosion (15 minutes, because the sandpaper was packed away in the basement somewhere), and finding that the light still wouldn’t come on, so replacing the switch entirely (30 minutes, two trips to the circuit breaker), which after reassembling didn’t quite fit, preventing the switch from throwing completely, so I had to fabricate a tiny plastic insert to give the knob a slightly longer stem (15 minutes), which finally got our dining room light working again.

So then I had to vacuum up all the plaster, crumbled insulation, and wiring bits, which lead to vacuuming half the house (30 minutes, it needed it), which lead to this posting (10 minutes).

Whew! I’m sweatin’! Now it’s time to watch a href=“http://www.fox.com/24/”>24!

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Joy of file folders

by Michael Alderete on 1/21/2005

I wrote before that I’ve been reading David Allen’s Getting Things Done, and that even though my reading isn’t close or complete, it’s already clear that I like his system. I’ve also been reading a few different web sites where different people write about their experiences using the GTD system, including Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders and Mark Taw’s site, among others. One post in particular talked about the necessity, and the joy, of having lots of file folders on hand, for immediate use as soon as you need to group things together.

I was, to say the least, a little skeptical. I mean, I understood that file folders are an important component of GTD, and even picked up a box of them at Costco the other day so I could get started GTDing, but really, the joy of file folders? Come on!

So I cracked the box this evening, with the intent of getting one folder out to hold all the magazine clippings I save to remind myself to check out something interesting. I even got out my P-Touch labeler and made a label for it.

Then I found another group of stuff on my desk that I could put in a folder. Labeled that one too. 15 folders later, I’ve emptied the labeling cartridge, but my desk and the top of the filing cabinet have no more lose papers.

Consider me a convert. Fresh file folders are cool. And I’m heading to the office supplies store early tomorrow to get a new cartridge for the labeler.

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Definitive Mac mini to Dell price comparison

by Michael Alderete on 1/18/2005

In The Mac mini: Comparing Apples and Oranges, Dan Frakes breaks down the pricing for Apple’s low-cost system and a “comparable” $399 Dell system that journalists all over the planet seem to think is a fair comparison. Unlike all those other journalists, he actually compares everything that comes in the box or pre-installed on the hard drive.

The nutshell is, the Dell is missing a lot. If you need any of those things (and some of them, such as anti-virus software, are essential to everyone running Windows), the Dell stops being so cheap.

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How this weblog is run

by Michael Alderete on 1/16/2005 · 2 comments

As I have been working on this site, I’ve visited quite a few other weblogs run by WordPress, and occasionally see something that I’d like to know how to do myself. A little widget here, a list of related posts there, a cool show/hide trick somewhere, etc. Cool things, but nothing that says how to do them. So, if anyone ever has that thought about my site, here’s the info. (This is really of interest to WordPress users only, but hopefully it’ll be useful, and other WordPress users will do the same.)

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Starbucks Chantico

by Michael Alderete on 1/14/2005 · 10 comments

I tried the new Chantico drinking chocolate at Starbucks today. It’s supposed to be richer and smoother and more intense than regular hot cocoa. Or in Starbuck’s marketing speak, a “drinkable dessert with an intense, full-bodied chocolate flavor and silky, rich texture.

It’s pretty good. A little more sweet than I prefer, and certainly no substitute for a true chocolat chaud, but far better than a regular hot cocoa drink, no question.

Would I change the recipe if I was in charge? Absolutely. I’d love a darker, less sweet, more bitter, intense chocolate flavor. But for a mass market product, it seems kind of daring. Given the products available in the US, I get the impression that most Americans want a watered down, dusty, sugary, choco-flavored powder-based drink. The Chantico at least avoids being that, and could actually be too strong for the American palate used to Quick and Swiss Miss.

I hope it’s successful. And I hope that Peet’s offers a competing product, with the differences I expect from Peet’s: darker, more intense. It still won’t be a chocolat chaud, but it’ll be worth getting regularly (I do love chocolate). In the meantime, I’ll probably get a Chantico every other week or so.

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2004 in review

by Michael Alderete on 1/13/2005

2004 was a decent year for us, and as always (at least since I started this weblog), I like to take a few moments to reflect on some of the important things that happened.

For me, the thing that dominated the year was my new “job” as a consultant. I’d done some consulting before, but in 2004 I managed to string together almost an entire year of work. Mostly half-time, so it wasn’t quite the income I would have liked, but I was able to pay the bills, and that’s pretty amazing. Really, all the credit goes to my primary client, Nicely Done Solutions, where the majority of my work comes from. They’ve kept me busy, and I hope to keep doing work through them for some time.

That dominated my day-to-day, but my biggest accomplishment in 2004 was my five year wedding anniversary with Rochelle. We have many more of those in our future, if we can both resist the temptation of butter.

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Macworld Expo hits from Apple

January 12, 2005

Like a lot of other Mac aficionados, I followed yesterday’s announcements by Apple quite closely. A lot of people are writing about them, so I’m just going to jot down a couple of thoughts I’ve had that I haven’t seen elsewhere.

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Sleep is sacred

January 10, 2005

I enjoyed the (fairly long) article Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sleep (But Were Too Afraid To Ask). The author works in the Seven Deadly Sins, the 2004 presidential election, and Chernobyl, among other things, with current scientific research and understanding of sleep. There’s also some really good hints on how to optimize your sleeping patterns.

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Problem with caching plug-in

January 10, 2005

I’ve run into a slight problem with the Staticize caching plug-in I was using to speed up WordPress on this site. It seems that $post->post_date isn’t correctly calculated on cached entries, even when you put them “outside” the cached page, and this screws up the time display on individual entries.

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Done digging for a while

January 8, 2005

I spent a couple of hours yesterday working on a few last lingering details for this site. The main changes I wanted to make were to upgrade to the latest version of WordPress (a minor security update), make sure I was using the latest version of the Kubrick template (I was), and most importantly, fix the problems I was having with the Kubrick comments form.

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