2017-02-04

Properly using Thermal Paste to keep your MacBook Cool

I hear a lot of people talking about how their MacBook is too hot.   They look at on-line forums and see that their MacBook is running at 83 C and get very concerned.  They learn from the forums that they need to re-apply the thermal paste to keep their computer cool, but virtually all the forums participants are amateur idiots that offer ridiculous procedures that are likely to damage your computer.

This article is the right way to address this problem.  

First, let's talk about why your computer is running so hot.

Computer CPUs get hot.  They're designed to get hot, consuming many watts in a very small surface area.  Ever touch a 25 watt light bulb that's been on for 5 minutes?  It will be painfully hot.  Take that 25 watts and put it in a much smaller package (think halogen), and it will be MUCH hotter.  That's a CPU - a 25 watt device in a very small package.

CPU manufacturers put temperature probes inside a CPU not so that you can look at the temperature, but so that the computer can regulate its own heat.  No heat sink is going to prevent that CPU from getting hot.  Instead, a heat sink is designed to take that heat and spread it across a larger surface.  Now if that heat sink was huge, you'd be done.  But a laptop is small, so a fan is then used to blow  room temperature air over the heat sink.

Your laptop has fan circuitry that is designed to regulate its temperature.  The fan's cooling ability is based on the ambient air temperature and airflow.  If the computer is feeling hot, it will spin up the fans to exhaust heat.  The amount of cooling is based on airflow and the temperature of the air going into the machine.

So, what about thermal paste?

Thermal paste is simply some heat conducting goop that helps the heat to move from the CPU to the heat sink.  Applying thermal paste is as simple as scribbling with crayons.  And it will last far longer than the life of any machine.  And therefore, "poorly applied thermal paste" or "worn out thermal paste" simply doesn't happen.

All that said, computers can get too hot, particularly when they get old.  Why?  It is almost always due to dust clogging up the airways of your computer, preventing the fans from blowing air over the heat sink.  When a modern computer gets too hot, it will automatically power off.  If you have that kind of behavior, the right response with your computer is to see if you need to de-dust the air passages. Another possibility is that the fan has failed.

So, in conclusion, leave the thermal paste ALONE.  Ignore the forums, as they are filled with idiots and shills that market stupidly overpriced thermal paste.  Let your Mac regulate its own temperature.  If the fan is spinning too hard, it is because you have a runaway process, or because your computer is full of dust.

LED Bulbs - Lifespan Review

I have converted to LED lighting, so here I want to talk about what bulbs have worked for me and which have not.

For those not good at the math of hours, there are about 8760 hours in a year.   Most traditional bulbs are predicted to last about 750 hours, and most LEDs are predicted to last about 22,000 hours.


I only have about 25 bulbs in use, with about 10 of them are on during waking hours (I work from home).

Ikea:
I have a handful of Ikea bulbs.  I have a couple 6.5 watt bulbs and a couple of 3.5 watt bulbs.  I put a lot of hours on these bulbs (perhaps 10,000 so far), with no failures.  So far they're all good.

LE:
I bought three small boxes of LE bulbs from Amazon.   I have two 6 watt candelabra-type bulbs, which have about 15,000 hours so far.  I also have a two 3 watt bulbs, at roughly 10,000 hours.  So far so good.  But I did have another set of four 3-watt LEs, and they all died after about 5000 hours.  The four dead bulbs were all from the same box, and I speculate that they all shared the same design or manufacturing problem.  So it's a mixed bag with LE so far, due to that one bad box I received.

Target
I bought a couple of Target-branded bulbs from Target.  They are 6.5 watt bulbs.  One has prematurely failed after less than 20 months, and perhaps 1000 hours.  The other is still going.

Philips
I only have one Philips LED, and its the oldest LED bulb I own.  It's still fine.

CREE
I have a bunch of CREE bulbs.  One is quite old, with about 16,000 hours.  The others are relatively new.  None have failed.

So, there you have it!  I had one bad batch of LE bulbs, and one Target bulb failed.  Regardless, I saved somewhere around $1200, so it's all been a great investment.  But better bulbs will help me lower the effort I have to expend. 


2017-01-17

How to park a car

Welcome!  Hopefully you found this page because you realize that you need to improve your parking.

A city has a lot of cars and not so many parking spaces.  In fact, most cities have way more cars than parking spaces.  This article is to help you maximize parking, so that you and your neighbors have a better change of finding a reasonable space.

Of course, every place has different parking laws, and those laws are usually designed to give residents a better chance to park.  If you get a ticket, pay up and learn your lesson.

Not all streets have marked parking spaces, so it is up to the skill and intelligence of drivers to properly park their cars.  The following tips are to help drivers park properly in such a situation:

Maximize

Always strive to park in a manner that allows room for additional cars.  Sometimes this is impossible, due to how cars have moved in and out of parking spaces.  Inefficient spacing in a parking zone can literally be nobody's fault, so be aware of the possibilities before you think of vandalizing someone's car.

Curb distance

Generally, you'll want to park as close to the curb as possible.  Generally 6 inches is a reasonable distance, but sometimes up to a 12 inches is OK.  Anything more than 12 inches is a sign of a very lousy driver.

I usually leave about four inches from the curb.  You can't do that?  You need to practice - a lot of beginners can't park very well.

While parking, be sure to flip in your street-side door mirror.  Otherwise, a lousy motorist or biker might break it off.

Hydrants, Intersections, and No Parking signage

If you see a space adjacent to a no parking sign or a fire hydrant, you should park as close as legally permitted to that sign or hydrant.  For example, if a sign says "no parking in behind this sign", you should park immediately in front of the sign, with no more than 2 inches of clearance.  As another example, if you see a hydrant and the law where you live says you must leave 8 feet of clearance around the hydrant, you should park 8 feet in front of (or behind) the hydrant.

Pull Up Principle

Unless you are parking in the last space (due to hydrant, sign, or intersection), you should pull up to the car in front of you, leaving roughly 18 inches for clearance.  Leaving less than 10 inches of clearance is too little and may prevent that driver from moving.  Leaving more than 24 inches is too much, and unnecessarily wastes parking potential.


Wrong-Way Parking

Always park in the direction of travel.  Never park in the direction opposite of travel.

On Snow

Only a scumbag would take someone's recently-shoveled space without shoveling out a space in return.  If you take a space that someone diligently shoveled out, then you are morally obligated to shovel out a space for someone else.

2017-01-15

The Craigslist Buyer's Guide by Lance J.

I sell a lot of things on Craigslist, and so I have gained some experience on what makes a good buyer versus a bad buyer.

I have never had a problem with Craigslist, but I am sometimes concerned that some buyers trust me too much. I am a great and honest seller, but I am unsure how some buyers know that.

So here are my tips:

The Basics
  • Always deal locally.  Never deal with home addresses, shipping or traveling significant distances.
  • Never deal with shipping or the mail in any way.
  • Never deal with anything other then US cash currency.
  • Never deal with very high value items. 
  • Never deal with trades.  In a trade situation, you need to be able to properly validate what you're trading for.  This can be very difficult.
  • An extremely good bargain is very likely a scam.  Don't bother.
  • Never respond to an ad with weird phone numbers or weird email addresses.  These are only used by people that have been kicked off of Craigslist.  In short, they are scammers.
  • Any seller (or buyer) who tells you that they are located out of state, deployed overseas, have a sick child, need a donation, own a shipping company, is a veteran or pastor, or who simply loves Jesus... is, without exception, a lying scammer.
The Item
  • Know the financial value of the thing you're buying.  Buying a MacBook Air?  Great, understand what they go for new, and see what a used one sells for via eBay Sold Items.
  • Always verify what you're buying.  If you're not an expert, get a friend who is an expert involved. Buying a guitar?  Great, get an expert friend to go along.  Buying a smartphone or computer?  Also get an expert friend to join you.
  • Inexpensive items carry less risk.
The Seller
  • Sellers who don't know what they are selling are bad sellers.  Avoid them.
  • Never blindly trust the seller.  Most sellers are great, but good con artists will appear great too.
  • Ask lots of questions, and look for any signs of an inconsistent story.
  • Never expect a refund, but ask the seller if he/she would support a refund if it isn't what it appears to be.
  • Always get telephone contact information from the seller.  Yes, there are disposable phones and phone numbers out there, but with some legal work they can potentially be traced back. 
The Location
  • Only meet in someplace safe.  If you have any doubt, do not meet.  If something doesn't feel right, don't meet and/or walk away.
  • Show up on time or slightly early.  A seller isn't going to want to wait around for someone who may never show up.
  • As a seller, I usually will meet a buyer in a place that I know, and where I think they should feel comfortable, such as the local coffee shop. And as a seller, I dictate where we meet, but will often give the buyer a bit of flexibility.

2017-01-13

The Pack Rat's Solution: Selling Junk on eBay, etc

I hate to throw things away.  Let's say my toaster breaks and I decide it isn't worth keeping.  Hm, maybe I'll harvest its knobs.

I've been doing this for years, because hey, you never know when you need a good knob.  But it has gotten a bit out of hand, and so with encouragement from my wife, I'm now selling this stuff.

Now on the surface, it seems that it would be a challenge for me to get rid off all of my "good junk". After all, if I sell all of my knobs, then I won't have a knob when I need one!  But actually, that's not the case. 

I'm happy that the knobs are going to someone that actually NEEDS them for good.  It's better for the knobs to go to a loving home where they'll be used as knobs, instead of sitting in a box in my basement until I'm dead, or going into a landfill where they'll decay over the millennia.  If I ever need that knob back, I'll just buy one on eBay.

I make very little money selling these little things - the vast majority (sometimes more than 80%) of an items' gross income goes into selling fees and shipping expenses.  But my wife is happy, the buyer is happy, eBay is happy, and the shipping companies are happy, and I do have a few hundred extra dollars in my pocket.

That's all pretty awesome.

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