Archive for January, 2009

Lemon Juice

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

OK, I like lemon in my tea. Is that so bad? Unfortunately, in order to put the lemon in the tea I now I have to supply myself with lemon juice. I don’t have a lemon tree. Well, I do but it’s at my rental and I’m pretty sure my tenant wouldn’t want me going over to his house to get lemons from his back yard. I mean he said he’d be happy to have me get the lemons from the tree because there are plenty and he doesn’t use them, but I think he was just giving me lip service and doesn’t want me anywhere near his house. But we’re really getting away from the topic, so back to the lemon juice. If you don’t have a source of lemons, you need to buy lemon juice at the grocery store. Go ahead, pick up some lemon juice. I’ll wait. Got it? Now, read the ingredients. See that line about lemon oil? That’s not lemon juice. It’s a bitter oil from the lemon peel. They mix in lemon juice, water and lemon oil to make this concoction, and then they try to pass it off as lemon juice. I got some that said 100% lemon juice on the front, but the back had a list of ingredients, one of which was lemon oil. Hey, it’s a bitter oil! It makes the lemon juice bitter. One time I wrote to the email address of one of the bigger brands (think Real…) saying that I thought it was a shame that they had to advertise that it was 100% juice and that they put so much lemon oil in there it made the lemon juice bitter. they replied with an apologetic missive that stated: “We’re sorry you don’t like the lemon oil in our lemon juice. We’ll send your comments to our marketing department.” The marketing department? Hello? How about the research and development department? Wouldn’t the guys who make the product want to know that it sucks? What are they gonna do over in marketing, try to figure out how to label it so I won’t mind the bitter taste of the product? I’m seeing the memo now: “Try to draw attention away from the fact that our lemon juice is bitter and doesn’t taste at all like actual lemon juice.”


Junk Mail

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

My wife and I got some junk mail today from a very popular roadside assistance company. I tend to throw all junk mail out, but only after ransacking them for anything of interest. And here it is- the pitch for me to sign up for roadside assistance. Oh, won’t you sign with us? It’s really cheap, and just think of the peace of mind you’ll have! Gee we know how you can’t sleep nights just agonizing over the next time your car breaks down… you know, on the road. Just think how happy you’ll be when you call for our assistance! They didn’t even know what name(s) to put on the envelope, but whoever we were, we were official ‘member elect(s)’ in this grand organization that had only our safety and peace of mind at heart… So I’m throwing papers rapidly into the recycle bin, and the last one says (in imitation handwriting) “About to throw this out? That could be a BIG mistake. Here’s why…” with an arrow pointing to the fold of the paper. Always ready for a good laugh, I open it and proceed to read a supposed appreciation letter from a customer to the very popular roadside assistance company which describes how this customer had just signed up with them because he had read a note from a member who had signed up for membership and had to use the service even before receiving his membership card. And this letter told how the new customer had ‘unbelievably’ locked his keys in his car only days after mailing in his application, and had received nearly instantaneous service from the very popular roadside assistance company even before receiving his membership card!

Uh huh. you can bet that I’m not about to mail in my application. Apparently a percentage of the people who become subscribers to this service immediately acquire a cavalier attitude and start doing stupid things with their vehicles that require availing themselves of the service! I’ll protect myself and my family in the only way I know how: by NOT becoming a member. And hey, it’s less expensive, too. Maybe I’ll write them a letter thanking them for setting me back on the straight and narrow…

Vex Explorer

Friday, January 16th, 2009

So i got this Vexplorer robot that has some cool parts, wheels, gearmotors, a camera, etc., it’s kind of like a radio controlled erector set. Not really a robot, in the sense that a robot is a mechanical device that is controlled by a computer, but for the price, the parts will be useful for building a robot. not having to reinvent the wheel is nice.Their web site is Vex Robotics. I’m planning on using the base as a test bed for one of my robot projects, if I can just get the time to do it.

The Vex is in my opinion not really a robot, as I understand the definition to be. It’s more of a radio controlled Erector Set. It wasn’t really expensive, and it does have the wireless camera and receiver, as well as the complete radio control system, and a host of other useful parts. For someone who doesn’t want to build a robot chassis from scratch, it would be a nice platform. I got it put together and drove it around a bit, now I plan to remove the radio control system and use a microcontroller to turn it into a real robot that will do stuff on its own.

Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx

Monday, January 12th, 2009

OK, this has got me steamed. I bought this new Garmin handheld GPS and part of the reason I selected it was for the expansion capability. I mean the thing comes with a 64 meg micro SD card, a software CD and a USB cable, so one would reasonably expect that they could connect to a web site, download map data, and then connect the GPS device to the computer using the supplied cable and download the map data to the supplied memory card. Am I wrong? Apparently yes. The software, when you read the fine print on the envelope it comes in, is ‘…not able to download additional maps to any Garmin GPS…’ Ok, fine so how do I download the maps to my device? Well, it’s like this: first you have to buy the map data, either on a DVD or CD and have them ship it to you, or you have to buy it on a micro SD card, and have them ship it to you. did I mention the key words? Yes, I did. You may have caught them, I wrote them twice for you. I’ll recap: “and have them ship it to you” Right. Garmin has decided that you can’t download the map data from the internet and then download it to your GPS. Ok, my first question is “Why not?” Second question: “Why do they include a micro SD card with the device?” So I wanted to use the thing tomorrow, but I can’t get the map data I need, even though the infrastructure necessary to let me give Garmin my money right now, get the map data right now and load it onto my device is in place and ready with nothing to do. How irritating!