2017-06-20

Five reasons for running a dishwasher overnight

A few weeks ago I tried to wonder why I run my dishwasher overnight.  I set it to run at about 4 AM or 5 AM, and it finishes up by 6 AM or 7 AM or so.  Here's a conclusion of my analysis.

Electricity is more efficient overnight, and therefore costs less and emits less carbon.
Power companies produce less electricity at night due to lower demand.  During the day, they produce more electricity.

As for-profit entities, power companies want to use as little fuel as possible - after all, their biggest expense is fuel. So the plants that they run all the time are their most efficient plants, and the plants that they add during peak times - during the day - are their least efficient plants.

By running my dishwasher over night, I am guaranteed to be using the power by the most efficient power plants.

Winter Heat / Summer Heat
My dishwasher releases quite a bit of waste heat and moisture.  Most of that heat from the dishwasher stays in my house.  By running my dishwasher at the the early morning, all the heat released pretty much stays in my house, to keep me incrementally warmer right when I awake.

Similarly, I don't want that heat in my house in the summer during the peak of the hot weather.  By running it in the early morning, the dishwasher waste heat doesn't add to an already super-hot house.

Waste water
The waste water produced by my dishwasher gets dumped into the sewer earlier in the morning.  This avoiding the peak time of wastewater production.

Hot Water Heater Cycling
By running the dishwasher in the early morning, the hot water heater gets busy heating up replacement water right before I get up to take a shower.  This puts less thermal cycling on the hot water heater.

Noise
I don't want to hear my dishwasher run.  I don't hear it while I sleep in the bedroom.

Quick drying
I like to open the dishwasher right after its cycle so its contents - particularly plastics - dry quickly.  Since I get up as it is finishing its cycle, I am often there to open the door and let the ambient environment quickly dry its contents.  By the time I'm ready for work, I can empty the cool and dry contents of the dishwasher.

---

There we have it!  That's why I run my dishwasher overnight.  Perhaps each line item has an extremely tiny impact, but perhaps when taken in their totality they are a little less than tiny.  Let me know which ones you think are bull - and why.



2017-06-16

Fixing the bottom rubber of a mid-2010 or late-2009 MacBook

All my regular readers know that I love the late 2009 and mid-2010 white unibody MacBook notebooks.  They're robust, they're still very capable, and they can still run the latest MacOS.

One problem with these old beasts is the bottom rubber can detach.  Apple used to provide free replacements, but that program ended more than a year ago.

So what do you do to fix the bottom?  It's easy!  Here's what I did:
  1. Remove the bottom plate by removing the 8 bottom screws.
  2. Fully peel off the failed rubber and fully expose the aluminum.
  3. Use small pieces of permanent tape on the "back side" of the lid to cover the drill holes in the aluminum.
  4. Fully clean the "exposed side" of the aluminum plate.
  5. Apply small stick-on rubber feet to each corner.
  6. Coat the "exposed side" of the plate with several coats of Plasti-Dip spray paint.  I picked red, but there are many colors available.
  7. Re-attach the bottom plate to the laptop.
There we go!  Now I have a nice rubberized bottom plate once again.  It looks great, it is stable, and it only cost about a quarter can of rubber paint to repair.

2017-06-02

Avoiding Computer or iPhone Repair Errors.

I repair a lot of equipment - mostly smartphones and laptops.  I'm no genius and I have limited expertise.  But I do know how to do quality work - making sure that the result is no worse than where we started from.  I am happy to say that I've rarely made something worse.

Not everyone is so good.

I've acquired a lot of equipment that was ruined from "home repair" people.  Don't be that person.

Here are the things I've seen:
  • Missing components and screws.
  • "Lost" small parts floating around inside a machine.
  • Mistakenly disconnected cables.
  • Welded parts mistakenly pulled apart.

If you're going to do a home repair, do good work.  That means you need to be patient, triple-check your work, and use reputable procedures and guides (which universally means NOT YOUTUBE!)

Here are my tips:
  • Get good repair procedures well before you begin.  These should be written procedures with photographs.  Youtube is good, but is NEVER a substitute for good procedures.  And a lot of people that make Youtube videos are, um, idiots.
  • Read the repair procedures first and make sure you fully understand every step.  Make sure you have all the tools and workspace available to do the job right.
  • Use the right tools. Do not use the wrong tool.  If the tool is available on the market, BUY IT.  Using the wrong tool for the job is always stupid.  Only experienced experts should be fashioning their own tools.  Virtually all repair tools are inexpensive.  Buy them.
  • Keep organized.  Never ever jam the wrong screw into the wrong place.  Develop a system to prevent yourself from making mistakes.
  • Screws and parts are there for a reason.  Break a part during disassembly?  Replace it.  Lose a screw?  Find it and make sure it goes back in its place.  Did you remove adhesive?  It served a function.  Replace it.
  • Know your limits.  If you can't deal with something, bring it to a pro.  For example, I hate dealing with a lot of adhesives.  I'm happy to bring a device to a repair shop if it is affordable and it help me avoid the art of working with numerous strong adhesives. 
  • Know that not all those in the repair business is professional.  Choose your repair shop carefully.
Good luck!




2017-05-07

The iPhone 3G and 3GS in 2017: Why? I'll tell you why!

The iPhone 3G ended production in 2010, and the 3GS was ended in 2012.  So the 3G/3GS series are all 4+ years old now.  But I have one that I keep and use.

Why use one now?  Because these models are still useful phones.  I use mine as a backup phone, for use when friends or family damage or lose their primary phone.



Both models are GSM-centric and have 3G radio chipsets, so they're still great for phone calls.  They have GPS, so they're useful for mapping and navigation.  And you can use them for texting, of course.


They're also inexpensive.  For $60 you can find a great one that you don't have to worry about losing.  You can keep one as a backup phone, or as a loaner.

Of course, you'll want an unlocked one, so that you can use it with any GSM provider.

The Reasons for owning an iPhone 3G or 3GS:
  • Super-inexpensive, perhaps $60 for a fine 3GS.
  • A great backup phone if your primary phone is lost or damaged.
  • A great phone for international travel - as all iPhone 3G/3GS models are GSM.
  • A great "first phone" for a kid, so you don't have to worry about them carrying, breaking, or losing a much more expensive device.
There are some limitations, of course:
  • They're stuck at an older iOS level, so they can't run apps that require a more modern iOS.
  • Neither model has a front-facing camera, so video chat is not a possibility.
  • The iPhone 3G does not support iMessage.  However, the iPhone 3GS does.
  • Significantly slower than a modern phone for the web.

2017-05-04

Why I love my Roomba

The amazing part of the Roomba is how shockingly well iRobot supports them.  You can get a ton of spare parts for them, and it is easy and inexpensive to repair or even upgrade a Roomba.

You read that right: Roombas are easy to work on AND the parts are inexpensive.

That's like buying a BMW, and learning that cylinder heads and alternators are $50 each and can be snapped in within 5 minutes.

I've had my Roomba 600 series for five years. Now five years is a lot of time for a computer technology product that deals with dust and dirt.  Here are the things that I've done so far:

Replaced the battery

After about 3 years, my Roomba's original battery was getting pretty weak.  I replaced it.  Replacing it is a simple affair, taking about 5 minutes.  New batteries are readily available at low cost.

Replaced (and upgraded) the brush head

Evidently I used my Roomba too much in my extremely dirty basement.  My Roomba's original green-colored brush head stopped working well.  I opened it up and it looked like the gears were getting chewed up with dust.

Therefore, I decided to buy a new brush head.  The brush head is basically the entire cleaning system of the Roomba.  It is possible to upgrade the classic brushhead to the Areovac version.

Sounds expensive and hard to deal with.  But it's not!  The new cleaning head was under $40, and it took about 5 minutes to install.

Even better, the new brush head was the modern Aerovac version.  That's right - this repair upgraded my Roomba's cleaning technology.

Replaced the power jack

I'm not sure what happened here, but my Roomba's original rarely-used power jack failed.  It was somehow sending a signal to my Roomba that he was still plugged in to the charger, when he wasn't.  This led to docking issues.

This was easy to install, but it took a little more time - maybe 15 mintues.  The replacement jack was about $5.

Conclusion

iRobot is the best.  They stand behind their products, and their products are improvable after purchase.  One thing I'd love is an upgrade to Roomba's brain, so that he could be controlled via bluetooth or wifi.   That'd be real fun!




Share