Useful Tool: VisualPing.io

When you need to watch a website for changes, VisualPing.io it my go-to. You get enough free credits to watch one page daily, and watching more pages is inexpensive. I’ve been watching my daughter’s after-school program’s website for updates during the pandemic and VisualPing has been helpful.

Locally Produced Home Gyms, Power Racks

Do you want a power rack or other home gym equipment? (and COVID making it both nessesary and hard to get?) A good friend and professional fabricator will be building and selling a set of about 10 power racks and other equipment in the Bay Area. He’s aiming for it to be competitively priced and (of course) local pickup/delivery.

Message me if interested!

How to Download Most Online Videos

If you need to download a video on Youtube or Vimeo or wherever, this process will often do it for you, fer free and without downloading some likely-spammy-scammy software.

The key is: most video online is HTML5. VLC can play any HTML5 video… and get you the link to download it. (via)

One in a Hundred

An important lesson about people and business:

From 2003 to 2005 I ran my own business fixing computers and such. I called it The Computer Guy,

I had just finished fixing a client’s broken email program (Outlook) and was packing up. I watched as he shut off his Windows laptop by simply holding down the power button until the computer died. My stomach lurched at the sight of it! I grit my teeth, and let out a breath to calm myself. I gently asked him if that was always how he turned off his computer. “Yes, it’s easier than finding that other way. I’ve never had any trouble.” I thought about the reason I was hired, to fix his mysteriously broken email program and told him there was a good chance it broke because of his bullet-to-the-head shutdown style. Then I started showing him how to shut down safely. He didn’t want to hear it, repeating how his current method was working just find. I redoubled my calm and told him, “Shutting down your computer that way is just fine ninety-nine times out of a hundred. That last time will break things but good. You’ve got my number.” Part of me wanted to shake him and make him do it right, instead I gave him a friendly smile, my business card, and left.

100 days later, like exactly 100 days later, I got a call! The computer wouldn’t boot. After I fixed everything, he was quite open to learning how to push the little “shut down” button instead of murdering his computer on a daily basis. When we were done, he gave me a very hearty handshake!

Important Lessons from QA

These are from when I was working as a QA (quality assurance) engineer around 2000 at Wavexpress.

The most important checks are the most basic. Our company created a big program for signing up for our beta program via a telephone number. I was not on this project and it was most certainly “not my job”, but I went and called the phone number on the flyer. It hadn’t been set up! I told the right people and the problem was fixed quickly. But the entire program would have been a bust AND given the company a black eye had I not checked the basics.

There was this nice guy who stayed late every Friday to swap tapes for the backup system. I liked him and wondered if the system actually worked so I put a file on my computer, waited 2 weeks, “accidentally” deleted it and asked IT for help. A day goes by and they hadn’t recovered my file so I check in. Another day. And a third. Finally, they admit to me that they had checked all the tapes and they were all blank! There were no backups at our software company! The most important checks are the most basic!

It is vital to end every meeting with an action plan. I always simply ask, “Ok, so what is the plan?” This was a tip I learned from some business guide. At first I was embarrassed to ask all these professionals such a silly question. If we’re leaving, of course we have a plan. But more often than not, that final conversation ends up being the most important part of the meeting! That question has cleared up innumerable vagueries and misinterpretations since I started using it in 2000! This may be the guide I read… sorry, I don’t recall the exact source.

Ensoniq KT-88 Manual (KT-76 too)

The KT-88 is an electronic keyboard made by Ensoniq. I found the manual graciously left on TheSoniq.com. Hurray!

Good COVID Reading

Here is This is a very good article about how not to get the ‘rona, The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them. He talks about many actual cases as examples. All of the posts by Erin Bromage are good Covid reading.

Some Bread

Bread baking friends, celebrate with me the videos made by the Proof Bread company in Phoenix! I’m linking to the video that got me hooked but the whole channel is a wonderment.

I took some hints from the videos and came up with this:

Cuts on the top were supposed to look like wheat, but they were pretty nonetheless.

I put a cookie sheet on the shelf under the pan to shield the bottom from heat. It worked well, making the bottom only a tiny bit crisper than the top instead of burnt.

1 1/2 cups of white flour, 1/8 cup whole wheat, 475 for 30 minutes covered, 12 minutes uncovered. Made a nice sandwich bread with a crackling crust :-)

Using Wget to Download a Website

Wget is a great tool for downloading individual webpages or entire websites. View the Wget manual.

When the site is password protected, you might do the following to download the site:

  • Download Wget.exe for Windows (there is no installation)
  • Get the Cookies.txt Chrome extension
  • Log in to the site
  • Use the Cookies.txt extension to copy-paste the cookies into a file named cookies.txt in the same folder as wget.exe
  • Run a command that looks like this (maybe it’s overkill, but after banging on it for a while, this worked. So there):

wget –recursive –no-parent –timestamping=on –no-clobber –page-requisites –html-extension –convert-links –restrict-file-names=windows –no-parent –load-cookies cookies.txt -e robots=off -U mozilla “https://www.EXAMPLE.COM/WHATEVER/”

I have had a little trouble with the cookies not working correctly. I’m not sure yet if it’s the cookie expiring after a few minutes and not getting renewed or Wget somehow fetching too aggressively. I successfully fetched a site by refreshing the homepage in Chrome (maybe keeping the cookie valid) and fetching from below the top level.

Replacing the Battery on an Ensoniq KT-88 Electronic Keyboard

I replaced the battery on my Ensoniq KT-88 electronic keyboard today. It wasn’t hard. Took about 45 minutes of unscrewing, fiddling with connectors, and soldering. (actually, the keyboard is on long-term loan from a good friend :-) )

I bought the battery from Syntaur. Maybe I could have found it for a few dollars cheaper but it wasn’t expensive and I wanted to make sure it was a good battery and had the right tabs on it! These guys rock.

Here she is, ready to go
Take all the screws off of the flat back plate. I counted… umm, a lot. I counted 3 types of screws so keep them separate for reassembly.
Unhook all the connectors, plastic pins, and screws from the motherboard carefully. A flathead screwdriver helped with leverage
Bjonk, it’s on my workbench!
There’s the culprit. Multimeter said 0.0 volts.
I just snipped it off and…
… soldered the new battery in place!
3 volts, yay!
It powers up without any trouble :-)

After I was done replacing the battery, none of the controls worked! Argh! The internet (local archive) told me that to reset the Ensoniq KT-88 “PRESS EDIT/SEQUENCES (PRESETS). PRESS AND HOLD THE UPPER 9 BUTTON AND THEN PRESS THE LOWER 9.RELEASE BOTH AND PRESS YES AT THE PROMPT.”. Thanks to