Monday, June 27, 2011

Kenmore dishwasher still won't drain: 665.13422k701

Three weeks back, our dishwasher wasn't draining. It looked about like the picture you see at right. I was glad at that time that we had the extended warranty, because it looked like a pain to deal with whatever that valve was that I thought might be the problem.

The repairman came around 6/14 or 6/15 and said we needed a new pump. Really? I thought the pump was quite healthy when I'd looked at it on the fifth, and it seemed to me that the problem was probably downstream from there. But the repair guy had complete diagnostic tools, etc., and he ordered the replacement parts (which apparently cost over $400). The next repair visit was Saturday 6/25, and the sad news is that the picture at right was taken Sunday 6/26. That's right, after the dishwasher had been "fixed" by a professional repair guy.

As you may imagine, we were quite unhappy with the situation, not least because we had a big party here Sunday afternoon. I was incensed and got into online chat with the sears repair crew, who went through their script and eventually offered me an appointment on July 7th. At this point I told him that it's not reasonable to ask us to wait another 11 days to have the problem looked at; I didn't have much confidence that they'd be able to fix it, actually.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and just order the replacement part(s) and fix it myself, since it would be another 11 days before they'd even consider sending someone out, who might not know any more than the first two guys.

Monday morning

Early the next morning, I went to the Sears website to look at the diagram, so I could locate the right part. If the pump was OK, the problem could be in the drain hose (the check valve seemed to be embedded in it), or maybe the air gap, or the hose that led from the air-gap to the garbage disposal. Where was that blockage?

If I disconnected the drain hose from the air gap, I'd find out. So I cleared out the under-sink area and loosened the hose clamp. I eased the drain hose off the air gap and ker-pow! water flew everywhere. Fortunately I had an old towel already spread out, and a big dishpan. I swung the hose over to the dishpan, but by then the pressure had already been relieved.

You guessed it; the air-gap was clogged. Just to be sure, I hit the cancel/drain button on the dishwasher; sure enough, my dishpan filled with milky water.

So, I found an old piece of hose, black-taped it to the dishwasher drain hose, and used some wire-ties to clamp it to the faucet. I also checked the other hose (which runs from the air-gap into the garbage disposal) to make sure it wasn't clogged. (It wasn't.) You can see the result at left.

So with that temporary repair in place, I called over to Plumbing N' Things in Redwood City. Did they have air-gaps in stock? Yes they did. I ran over there, and a very pleasant young lady took care of me. Air-gap, chrome? Polished nickel? Had we ordered things there before? She looked us up. "Oh! I sold you your kitchen!" I told her the old air-gap had clogged up, so she sold me a different brand name this time. $18.10 including tax. Dishwasher's running at the moment; I'll install it maybe tomorrow evening.

The moral of the story

For me, anyway, the lesson learned was: next time I call a warranty repair guy, to take enough time off from work to supervise him. (These guys do not necessarily all know what they're doing.) And if he comes up with a diagnosis I don't understand, to discuss it with him. "Couldn't the problem be after the drain hose?" or whatever.

If the guy knows what he's doing, I might learn something. And if he doesn't, he might learn something.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Love and Destiny

Merton writes in No Man Is an Island 1.6 (7–8):
Charity makes me seek far more than the satisfaction of my own desires, even though they may be aimed at another's good. It must also make me an instrument of God's providence in their lives. ... My will must be the instrument of God's will in helping them create their destiny. ... My love must be for them the minister not of my own spirit but of the Holy Spirit.

Such a conception of charity is, above all, proper to a priest.

This is a really good point, one which I must remember myself: love isn't primarily about making someone feel good, or making them happy with me (though if my appearance makes them unhappy, that may be a sign I'm not loving them well). Instead my love must seek to help them create their destiny. Two more points, both obvious:
  • That's not all of what love is about, but it had better be a major focus. If I tell the lovely Carol, "I want to help you create your destiny," that's not nearly the same to her as "I love you."
  • My love is always mixed up with my own desire to be worthy, and to receive love in return. It's not pure.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

If a module gets bursts of changes, it's more likely to have outstanding bugs

The title is my attempt to summarize this paper from Microsoft Research: A colleague found it recently. Very interesting. I'll have to see how these results can be applied to, ah, non-microsoft code.

macbook hard drive upgrade

My buddy Sylvia wanted a hand upgrading the HDD on her macbook. Having not ever done this before I was interested to see what it was like. Google pointed me at a bunch o' pages and I decided to emulate
  • My MacBook came from the factory with an 80 GB drive (Fujitsu MHV2080BHPL), and I decided to take the plunge and upgrade to a larger drive

    Sylvia is going from 120GB to 500GB. This is a WD Scorpio Blue 5400RPM

  • 1) I backed up my existing hard drive to an external firewire enclosure using SuperDuper.

    Sylvia is already doing this, so we brought her backup up-to-date, which took under 10 minutes.

  • 2) I shut down and rebooted, holding the "Option" key to see my boot device choices: I chose the external drive and booted from that, just to make sure everything on the backup worked okay.

    OK, let's see... power on, hold down option key for a ... long ... time. OK, got a choice of boot devices, point at the external drive and double click.

    Somebody asked how long it took; the (digital) clock on the range said 2:40 when I selected it; now it says 2:41 (hint: the sun is shining) and her desktop has the just-added SuperDuper! icon. Desktop background is the starfield one though, rather than Sylvia's usual background—a painting of a mountain scene.

  • It did. I shut down the MacBook and disconnected the external drive.
    3) I laid out a clean cloth, turned the MacBook over and removed the battery. Then I used a small (jeweler's) Phillips-head screwdriver to loosen the three screws on the memory/hard drive bracket in the battery compartment. Then I removed the bracket.

    shutdown... check; disconnect hard drive... check. disconnect power... check. remove battery... check. three screws... check. bracket... check.

  • 4) The hard drive is in the left end of the case inside the battery compartment. I untucked the plastic tab and gently pulled: the hard drive slipped right out.

    untuck tab... check. pull gently... hard drive slipped right out. Yessss!

  • 5) The hard drive is mounted on a thin metal caddy: you will need a #9 Torx screwdriver to remove the drive from the caddy. I removed the four screws from the caddy and removed it from the old hard drive. Then I put the caddy on the new drive.

    Some other website said you needed a #8 torx; I went to Ace Hardware and got their 6-piece set that had ['T'+`x` for x in range(5,11)] (pardon my Python). The T9 fits better, but T8 didn't slip.

  • 6) I slid the new drive into its slot and tucked the plastic tab underneath the drive as the old one originally was.

    Piece of cake. By the way, I put the old drive into the antistatic bag that the new drive came in.

  • 7) I replaced the memory/hard drive bracket and battery, and put the unit upright again.

    Ditto. Done.

  • 8) I connected the firewire drive and powered up the MacBook holding the Option key. I selected the external drive (as I did in Step 2) and booted up.

    Man, that's easier than I thought! Less than 40 minutes spent so far, and that includes taking the photo you see above and updating this posting.

  • 9) Once running, the MacBook gave an error message that I connected an "invalid device." A dialog box asked if I wanted to initialize the disk, and when I clicked "yes" it brought up Disk Utility.

    Or... "The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer." I clicked the "Initialize" button and Disk Utility came up.

  • 10) In Disk Utility, I selected the new drive and chose "Erase." After a minute the drive was ready and MacOS mounted it: I could see it on my desktop and in the Finder.

    I selected "640.14 WDC WD640..." Apparently the "500 GB" disk is 640GB. (There's an insert in the box -- 140GB free!) I selected "erase" with defaults (journaled FS, but I didn't say "case sensitive").

  • 11) I fired up SuperDuper again, this time making the external drive the source and the new internal drive the target. The restore took about an hour.

    This didn't work! SuperDuper didn't let me select the new HD as the destination. I googled on "superduper help" (no quotes), which eventually led me to from which I learned that the hot thing to do is select Disk Utility's "Restore" tab. Took about 20 minutes to figure that out (I'm slow).

    Speaking of Slow, Disk Utility estimates 4 hours to restore. (10 minutes later, it says "2 hours.")

    One more thing! Since the firewire ext drive was called "lacie ext drive" and it's getting restored to the WD internal drive, all aspects of the drive are getting copied; it now appears that "lacie ext drive" is getting copied to "lacie ext drive". Spooky, but it's OK. I hope.

    We're now looking at a 6pm completion time. I'll put the rest of carabiner23's November 2006 post (shoulda looked at the date) into a different color...

  • 12) Once completed, I shut down the MacBook, disconnected the firewire drive, and pushed the Power button. The MacBook booted perfectly with the new drive. Success!

  • 13) Once I was up and running, I ran a "Repair Permissions" just to make sure everything was copacetic. It's all good.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Two bike cars on every Caltrain

Lest you think I only complain about Caltrain and VTA, I was happy to observe the other day that every Caltrain now has two bike cars!

Now if I ride my bike to work, but don't want to ride it all the way home, I have the option to take the Lazy Man's way out and use my Caltrain monthly pass with my bike -- with no fear of being denied boarding because the one bike car is full.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Kenmore dishwasher won't drain: 665.13422k701

After googling, and particularly after reading this post I decided to take a look at the pump. Here's what I did:
  1. Turned off power at the breaker.
  2. Removed the bottom access panel (two screws).
  3. Undid the drain hose.
  4. Dried the floor (you can stop laughing now).
  5. Turned power on at the breaker.
  6. Pressed the "cancel/drain" button and observed vigorous action from the pump.
  7. Pressed the button again to make it stop.
  8. Turned power off again at the breaker.
  9. Re-attached drain hose.
  10. Noticed troubleshooting documentation in plastic sleeve, attached to interior surface of the access panel mentioned in step [2]; it makes me think the check valve is bad.
  11. Replaced access panel.
  12. Turned power back on at the breaker.
  13. Verified that it still doesn't drain.
Replacing the check valve in the drain-hose loop will probably require pulling the dishwasher out.

The good news is that this machine is still under (extended) warranty. The guy will come next Tuesday. Fortunately, we still know how to wash dishes by hand.

Nerd alert: Please try this at home: Python antigravity

For those of you without access to python3, let me just say that is related....

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Virgin Mobile "mifi" outage

Short version: If you have a virginmobile "mifi" device, be sure to keep the admin password, your MDN, MSID and account PIN somewhere you can reach it, because sometimes your mifi card will need reprogramming after an outage!

Got this device a few months ago, and for the most part it works great. The speed is adequate for most of what I want to do, and for $40/month "unlimited" it's reasonable. (Photo is from's review)

Tuesday afternoon May 31 (I think) there was another data outage. I tried calling tech support, using my Verizon (!) cell phone, but the call was dropped. Tried calling from home, but this time there was an automated announcement: data connectivity issues, try back in a couple hours.

Wednesday, didn't try it. (I drove the car to work -- Quelle horreur!) but on Thursday Mifi still didn't work. Another call -- the data access issue has been resolved—Yes!!—but please select "tech support" from the main menu to reprogram your device. Bah! They asked for my account number (which I wrote down on a little 5"x5" sheet and hid somewhere on my desk) -- I said I didn't have one, and then selected "tech support" and... I needed the admin password for the device.

You got it—the account number, MSID, account PIN, and admin password were all carefully hidden on my desk. So I was mifi-less Tuesday afternoon 'til now, when I discovered said 5"x5" card. (I was out just two days, really, since Thursday and Friday were the only days I'd wanted to use it--and that was partly my fault.) You can be sure I put all those magic words/numbers in a better place.

The TSA's worst nightmare

That's what they're calling Phil Mosek, who tried to board an airplane without "proper ID". He was arrested, and acquitted on all counts; video recordings demonstrated that the TSA and police were lying.

Here's the report on his acquittal (see also Seattle Weekly's report) The TSA Blog unsuccessfully spins the acquittal, as you can see from the numerous comments. And check out the Q&A on this site, which points out:

Is there any law that requires you to show ID credentials to fly, or to the police?

No. In Gilmore v. Gonzales (decided at 435 F.3d 1125), a case involving the same airline, lawyers for the TSA swore to the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals that no Federal law or regulation requires airline passengers to show any evidence of their ID in order to fly.

Is there any law that requires you to answer questions from the TSA or police?

No. You have the right to remain silent. Mr. Mocek explicitly invoked this right.

Is there any law or regulation that prohibits or restricts photography or audio or video recording at TSA checkpoints or of police?

No. Prior to his flight out of ABQ, Mr. Mocek received written confirmation from Albuquerque TSA staff that, “There aren’t any state or city laws/ordinances that prohibit photography in the public areas of the airport.”