Sunday, May 22, 2016

Force-of-nature Cleaner and Disinfectant

A friend, Sandy Posa, has been talking for a couple years about bringing to market a product that electrolyzes water, salt and vinegar to produce Sodium Hydroxide and Hypochlorous acid.  The combination is both a cleaner and disinfectant.  It's finally happened.  So I ordered one and it really works.  We usually use an major brand ammonia based cleaner, which works very well.  In my jugement the cleaner is about as good as the major brand.  The real test was the disinfecting.   Our garbage compactor doesn't gleaned as much as it needs and it was pretty smelly the other day.  I removed the bag and just sprayed the compactor container inside and out without wiping.  I left and came back 30 minutes later and the smell was gone.  The bacteria producing the smell was gone.  It's still fine a day later.  The next test is my son's baseball spikes which get wet and spend a lot of time in his gym bag.  We'll see. 
The web site is
I recommend it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Photo site moved.

In case you've looked at my Flickr photos you may want to look in a new location.  I've moved everything to Phanfare.  Most of the old photos are there as well as new ones from the last two years. 
Andy Novick Photo Site

Friday, June 05, 2015

Customer Service Success and Failure

Somethings work, some things don't.  I think I can report on which is which and which company makes a good faith effort.

Fail: CapitalOne Credit Cards- Just trying to call in to activate a card.  Had to go through 3 advertisements for some other service.  This use to take 30 seconds. They turned in into a 3 minute ordeal before I hung up.  Won't be signing up for more of their cards.

Success: The auto insurance system.  Got rear ended by a 20'ish driver.  The system worked.  We got picked up by a tow truck. Taken to a garage.  They wanted to do the work but the insurance company, Commerce Insurance, let me find someone I preferred.  I took the list they gave me and Angie's list and found one with a good Angie's rating not too far from home.  It took a while but it got done right.  The other driver's company was also very good.  Got my rental car at Enterprise without problems and they covered all the days.  It took a little back and forth but not that much.

Fail: BoxxTech.  Very nice computers but customer support is pretty bad.  After I liked one I bought another for my wife.   But now the battery on the original one failed and it also can't overclock.  So I guess I'm not high on the computers either.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Getting back into photography

For a number of life reasons I’ve decided to get back into photography after a 20 year hiatus.  I could be a dinosaur and stick with film, I’ve always thought of moving up to a view camera for the movements and incredible resolution.  It seems that the same results can be achieved with digital so I’m going to make the switch and go with a Nikon D800E for the high resolution and sharpness.  So far it’s great but I’ve got a lot to learn especially about post processing.  But that effects how you shoot in the first place: gone is bracketing for the right exposure because that’s evident in the histogram, it seems to be replaced with expose-to-the-right and bracketing for HDR.  Well, there’s going to be lots to explore.  I’ve put some of my photos up on Flicker here: Andy's Pictures  

Friday, March 01, 2013

Eric's trip to Motorama's Battlebot Competition from the Sudbury Town Crier

The Sudbury Town Crier published this article that I wrote about the Rogue Robotics teams' trip to Harrisburg for Motorama.  Mostly I did the driving.  The whole Battlebot event was a gas, full of energy and ideas.  The LS team did great.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lost: The Final Episode

The final season of Lost is to start in early February and an article in the WSJ prompted me to think about how the series should end. Would any of the open questions be resolved? So here, on January 23, 2010 is my script for the final 5 minutes of the show.

Juliet bangs the bomb with the rock. Big mushroom cloud over the island….

Cut to commercial

Scene: DARMA project, Desmond Hume enters the numbers into the computer. Fade to…

Scene: From the outside you see a large airplane land but no markings are visible to the audience because of the angle. In the distance shots of LA. Cut to the plane’s interior from back to front to see the usual jostling of the cabin heads of some of the cast might be visible. Cut to a clock, the time is 10:42. Cut to the pilot, Seth Norris.

Sounds of the electronic bells on a typical airplane: Ding Ding

Stewardess’s voice over the airplane PA: This concludes Oceanic flight 815 non-stop from Sidney to Los Angles. Please enjoy your stay in California. We hope that you enjoyed your flight and will fly with Oceanic again soon. Those possessing United States passports…. (sound fades)

You hear and see the airplane door depressurize. More bells. A wheelchair enters pushed by a steward and heads for John Locke who moves into it with the help of a brace, dour look on his face, and is pushed towards the door first. You see other passengers getting up and not talking much to each other. Jack helps the pregnant Clair still not knowing that she is his half sister. Hugo, Michal, Walt, etc. exit the airplane.

Jack exits and heads right out of the gangway down the stairs. Cut to the tarmac. Jack sees to the handling of his father’s coffin.

Cut to the customs exit area. Passengers exits and are greeted by relatives.

Kate is taken into custody by a US Marshall.

Cast members proceed through the Imagration line. You see the back of the head of one of the agents as he gives Walt his passport back.

Cut to the agent's face. It's Ben Linus. He looks at the camera and winks.


Friday, January 02, 2009

2009 Calendar is up and available

My 2009 calendar is up on the web site with the first circled date, January 1. Of course, 1/1/ is the anniversery of the day the Year 2000 Bug didn't happen.

The design is pretty nice. If you haven't seen it there are both color and black and white PDFs available at

Happy New Year


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Monday, November 05, 2007

New HP dv9000 laptopnext

I've purchased a new HP dv 9000 with Vista. My first impressions are pretty mixed. It's pretty. Vista is pretty. The off center keyboard is a bit strange and I'm not use to it. The keys ar just not in the right positions.

Vista is slow. I know there is more security but really. This computer has two processors, 4gb of ram. There's no excuse. I'm running XP Pro in a VMWare virtual machine and it's pretty snappy.

My next gripe is the lack of supporty by VPN vendors for 64 bit Vista. What? This is a year old OS that was available to them starting 3 years ago. Shame on you Sonicwall.

We'll have to see if my opnion get's any happier.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

ZoomIT 2.0 - PDF Reader/Editor - Troubles

Over the past few years I've grown to dislike Acrobat Reader. All those nagging downloads and the heavey slowness. So I've been trying ZoomIT but have had to uninstall it.
The problem came when I tried to print using ZoomIT a tax PDF that had been filled out already. When I opened the PDF it was okay but it asked to download a plugin that allowed it to handle the Javascript in the form. It did a nice job of the download. The first problem is that changes made with ZoomIT and saved didn't save. I'm not sure why not.
The big problem was that when I went to print I got a


The whole machine crashed and rebooted. I tried the file again with the same result.

Then when I went to their support screen to enter the problem I got stuck and couldn't complete the entry because I had made an invalid choice for the build number.

So much for ZoomIT.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

God's Debris

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has made his book God's Debris (2001) a free download. The price is right and the book is interesting. He calls it a thought experiment around the questions:
What if there was someone who knew everything?
What is God?
What should I be doing?

There's a few choice words about relationships and what each of the genders think about the other.

The follow on "The Religion War" is still a paper book.

I think it cost me about $3 to print the PDF and I think it was well worth the money, effort, and the time spent reading it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fish Story of Plain Dumb Luck

30 minutes out of the dock the first strike came and one of the Scotts got the chance. 30 seconds later I got a chance. There was only one chair so the crew fitted me with a belt to use to anchor the rod as I pulled in this baby. Six feet of sailfish. I was pretty surprised and unprepared so we threw it back into the Caribbean. I’ll just have to go back again.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Walking through the Gates and getting hungry

With my sons, parent, sister, and her family I went to the Gates in central park this weekend. It was odd. And somewhat impressive. I'm not really sure that I can say that I liked it but it was a small "experience". We did get hungry while walking around in the cold but couldn't find the alternate exhibit, Crackers.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Congratulations to the New England Patriots.

Congratulations to the New England Patriots.
We had 20 people for our Super Bowl XXXIX party. Tommy, Eric, and I built this red and blue snow football as one of the decorations. Eric is the one kicking off with Tommy holding.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I started this blog thinking it wouldn't be about technology but I'm already going to let a little slip in. It's not my technology but I've run across two sets of predictions about where Google is going that are though provoking.

The most recent of the posts is John Dvorak's thoughts on the possibility of a Google browser and a Google OS. The browser sounds pretty reasonable and pretty easy to achieve. After all as JD predicts it'll be a version of FireFox. The OS seems a little more far fetched. The problem with new OS's has always been the availability of software, which I'll consider in another post. Here's the link to JD's article:

The other interesting posting is EPIC, an 8 minute flash movie about one possible future where GoogleZon takes over the news. I ran into it on Rocky Lhotka's blog. You'll find it at: . Rocky's seems to be concerned about the possibility of authors earning a living in a world of where so much writing is free. The same holds for programmers in the face of the open source movement. How are we suppose to earn a living if software is free? There are a few models of success but only a few. In any case, the EPIC movie is worth watching.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Dealing with a Frozen Drain Pipe

I've had a recent success in dealing with a frozen pipe and if you've got the same problem you might be interested. The pipe in question is the PVC drain pipe from our kitchen sink. It also handles the output of the dishwasher. With all that hot dishwasher water you'd think it wouldn't freeze but that just wasn't the case. The pipe runs against the outside wall for a stretch of about two feet.

I tried a manual snake without luck. As I later learned, one of the things to look for to determine that you're dealing with a frozen pipe instead of a routine clog is what comes back when you retrieve the snake. If it's clear, you're probably dealing with a frozen pipe instead of a hair, food, or grease clog.

As you might guess we called a plumber, who tried his power snake. It's pretty much the same as the manual one but with a power drill doing the turning. The snake came back clean so he packed up and went away leaving us to wait for the pipe to break so he could come back and charge a bundle for opening up the wall and replacing it. But he did make two reasonable suggestions:
- Pour hot salt water down the drain.
- Put a space heater under the kitchen sink cabinet.
I had been thinking about the salt water. It would lower the melting point of the water in the drain and might slowly melt the ice. So I tried. And while I was at it I put a small electric space heater under the sink and aimed it at the drain pipe. These suggestions might work in some circumstances but didn't help us. The heater might work much better on copper pipe than on PVC but who has copper anymore?

That evening an idea struck. If you can't heat it up from the inside, why not try and heat it up from the outside. Eureka!

I thought about various forms of insulation that might insulate the outside wall and slow the heat loss. A blanket? Leftover foam insulation? My wife suggested cardboard, which sounded like a pretty good idea so I retrieved the shipping carton from an old DELL server? What else?

I settled on making a tent by leaning a 4x8 sheet of plywood against the exterior wall of the house. Over this I stapled a leftover plastic drop cloth. The idea was to capture the heat from the wall in a sort of tent around the wall. I was even planning to run an extension cord outside and put the space heater in the tent. If I didn't set the house on fire, that was pretty sure to work.

It turned out that I didn't need the heater because there was an exhaust vent for the kitchen counter range that exited the house right near the window over the sink and thus near the drain pipe. I extended the plastic sheet over the vent so that the warm exhaust would be captured in the tent. Then I went inside and turned on the fan so that it would pull warm air from the inside of the house through the vent and heat the wall. I returned to work and hoped for the best.

Forty-five minutes later I went to get some coffee and the water in the sink was gone. The outside thermometer that is inside the plastic tent read 40 degrees (F). The thermometer a few feet way that wasn't in the tent read 21 degrees (F). The tent and the exhaust fan did the job.