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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

October 2012

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Lortone rock tumbler I got the other day is working very well. It is quieter than the cheap one, and it seems to do the same job. I checked the last barrel of fire agate yesterday and it looks like it will take at least a couple more days to get the stones as smoothly polished as I would like.


 

I have been noodling around with the Roku box. I have looked at some of the channels that I can use, and there are some I will not be using at all. Specifically, any channel that requires me to create an account, free or not, will not be on my usage list. Some of the free channels do a very poor job of buffering and are not truly watchable. Other free channels put up to 4 commercials in a commercial break. That wouldn't be too bad, since they are very short, but a lot of times they run the same commercial four times. That is extremely annoying.

That's why I am now fixated on a channel called PubDHub. It is basically a streaming interface to the thousands of public domain video and audio files on Archive.org. They have a sensible buffering system and they have very good content. I watched Planet Outlaws (Buck Rogers, 1938) and Rocketship X-M (1950) yesterday. The videos were in great shape and I enjoyed watching them. I will come back to PubDHub for more content in the future.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

I went over to Irv's Rock Shop and picked up their used Lortone model 33B-NR dual-barrel tumbler for $25 (it lists new for $136). The tumbler motor and rollers were frozen, but I was primarily interested in the pulleys, as they are the perfect size for the belt I am using on my Harbor Freight tumbler. I figured I could remove the pulleys from the Lortone and use them in the Harbor Freight tumbler.

In order to get the pulleys out, I removed the motor from the Lortone. Then, just for grins, I disassembled the motor to see if I could free it up. I oiled the bearings, put it back together and it now works like a charm. I oiled the rollers on the Lortone and got them working, too. So instead of using the Lortone for parts, I am now using it as a replacement for the cheap Harbor Freight tumbler.


 

I have decided to reorganize the images section of this blog. As a reader, you should see no changes. As a maintainer, I should be able to more easily add and edit images. So that's a win for me.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Monday, 29 October 2012

The NILUG technical session didn't quite go as I thought it would. They did not build an edge router there. That will be done at the next general session, which will be on November 10th. In the meantime at the technical session, I helped a couple of people with their problems.


 

That very sturdy belt on the cheap dual-barrel tumbler broke. That makes three belts I've lost on the tumbler. I am going to fix it - Irv's Rock Shop has a Lortone dual-barrel tumbler without the barrels, and I've got two perfectly good barrels with a crummy tumbler. I think I can combine the two to get a tumbler whose belts won't break every few days.

In the meantime, I've put the last belt on the tumbler and have unloaded one barrel and loaded the other with polishing compound. I need to finish tumbling all this up before it gets too cold to do anymore tumbling.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Friday, 26 October 2012

The technical session of the North Idaho Linux Users Group will be held tomorrow afternoon. We are going to start work on on our home/business network. First up is the creation of an edge router, which we will create tomorrow. I will donate a 20GB hard drive to the project, as well as an optical mouse if the system needs one. After the edge router, we will create a wireless router, using a standard desktop computer.


 

I switched the tumbler barrel of fire agate over from pre-polish to polish. I also loaded up the other barrel with pre-polish and the fire agate that I had removed when I was having belt trouble. In both cases, I added plastic tumbling pellets to the barrels. These are small, very hard pellets made of plastic that aid in the polishing process. It remains to be seen how well they work for me.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

I browsed the Harbor Freight web site yesterday to see if they stocked any of the belts for my rock tumbler. They do, but while I was there, I looked at the comments for the belt. One of the commenters remarked on how little wear you put on the belt before it broke. He also posted that the belt for the Lortone 3 pound dual barrel tumbler will work in its place and is much sturdier.

I called Irv's Rock Shop over in Spokane to see if they stocked the Lortone belt, and they do. So I drove over there and picked up some more coarse grit, medium grit, pre-polish and tumbling pellets, as well as the belt. Imagine my surprise when I found that the belt is a duplicate of the one I got at the vacuum cleaner shop.


 

Last year when I was working for Solarwinds and they were getting rid of a bunch of surplus electronics, I snagged a device called a Wilson Signalboost from them - for free. It was supposed to pick up the signal from a cell phone tower and boost it. On my Verizon phone, I had no bars in the house and 1 bar on the front porch, so I tried it. It did not do anything at all for my Verizon phone.

My new Consumer Cellular phone actually shows no signal at all in the house, so I decided to try the signal booster again. I am now getting one to two bars in the house. So I no longer have to walk the half mile to the county road just to use the cell phone, which is fantastic.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The new belt I bought for the rock tumbler seems to be doing an okay job. I checked this morning and the tumbler is still running. I don't know how much more strain it is placing on the motor, but it's better than no belt at all, which is my alternative.

I will be checking how the barrel of fire agate is doing after this is posted.


 

The 'contract' I had with Verizon for my cell phone expired on the 11th of this month. I have now switched over from them to Consumer Cellular and will be saving $25 a month on charges. No tears lost on my part.

The Verizon network is not compatible with the Consumer Cellular one (based on AT&T), so I had to get a new phone. I ended up with a Motorola Bravo phone. Android strikes again.


 

Last month, our daily temperatures were consistently over the normal average. This month, the temperatures are consistently under the average. This week, they have been 20 degrees below normal. We had a bit of snow this morning. Not much, but a taste of things to come.

With that in mind, I guess I will have to change the tires on the Honda and the Dodge, and put the snow plow on my truck. I had hoped not to see snow until after Thanksgiving (like last year), but I don't think that will happen.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

When I was a kid, my Dad and I used to fly control-line model airplanes. One of the things we did was fly combat - two planes in the same ring flying streamers and trying to cut each other's streamers. Needless to say, we had some accidents, and when it came to fixing the broken leading edge of a wing, epoxy did an outstanding job. The wing would never break at the repaired place again.

I thought of this when I went down to the local vacuum cleaner repair shop to get a real rubber belt for my rock tumbler. I bought the belt and I also bought some Crazy Glue. When I got home, I glued together one of the broken belts and put it back on the tumbler. The repair apparently lasted a few hours, but it broke again in exactly the same place. Not at all like epoxy. I put the purchased belt on the machine this morning, but it is tight and I don't know how long it will last. I will have to find a real source for those belts.


 

I had another hassle yesterday, trying to log in to my Verizon account. It wasn't their fault - I forgot not only my user name but also my password. I had to go through a big procedure to get them.

That was actually the last straw for me. I have way too many user names and passwords for stuff on the Internet. So I installed KeePassX on this workstation to keep track of them. KeePassX is a multi-platform password database. It works extremely well and I can keep track of many user names and passwords with it. You can install it from the Synaptic repositories.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Monday, 22 October 2012

The backup belt for the rock tumbler broke on Friday, leaving me with a non-working tumbler. I went down to Lowes and picked up what looked like a perfect replacement for the belt, but it was too wide and was not made of rubber only. I will try to come up with a replacement without going to Harbor Freight in Spokane, which is where I got the tumbler in the first place. In the meantime, I have a mess of unpolished fire agate sitting around gathering dust, and the weather is starting to turn bad, so I don't have much more time to do this out in the unheated garage.


 

When I was at the mineral club meeting, I picked up a couple of cast iron cooking items from one of the members. One was an 8" Wagner skillet, which is in very good condition. The other is a 10" Wagner Dutch oven, also in very good condition, which came with the lid from a 10" Wagner skillet. The lid doesn't fit the oven properly, but it works just fine with the skillet I use every morning to make breakfast. The lid even has patent information cast into it - the latest patent it shows is from 1922. I suspect that the lid was made in the mid-20's. I will be using it daily, even though it is over 80 years old.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Friday, 19 October 2012

I put some more fire agate in the other rock tumbler barrel and charged it with pre-polish. That material was picked out of the leftover material I had run through on coarse grit. So the original fire agate barrel is on medium grit and the new one on pre-polish.

I took some of my work to the mineral club meeting and it was well received. We also got through officer nominations, so that is out of the way. Unfortunately, there was no presentation last night, but we had a good time anyway.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The monthly meeting of the North Idaho Mineral Club is tonight. We are coming up on officer elections and the election committee met yesterday over in Post Falls. We came up with a slate of candidates, but I still have to contact some of the people to ensure they are willing to run.

I will take the gemstones I have been working on to the meeting tonight. I am still sorting my raw fire agate and will not take any of it to the meeting. I will also take the fire agate I have tumbled, as it shows some very good color.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

I checked the fire agate tumbler barrel and decided to let it go on medium grit another day. I will probably change over to pre-polish today. I was thinking of starting the big tumbler with the remaining fire agate, but it's starting to get cold and I don't want anything to freeze up. I will wait until spring, I guess.


 

I got a recall notice for my Honda Civic the other day. I took the car down to get that and an oil change done. The recall involved replacing a headlight wiring harness that someone decided needed to have larger gauge wire. I have had the car for 8 years and I have never had a problem with the headlights, but I figured I would take advantage of the recall.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

I mostly worked on rocks yesterday. I have some mahogany obsidian that needs more polish than the tumbler was giving it, so I put it on my 3,000 grit diamond wheel. It still needs more polish. I will try the 14,000 grit pad, but I suspect that a powder compound will need to be used.

The barrel-load of fire agate in the tumbler is still on medium grit. I will check it today and possibly change over to pre-polish. We finally have some rain and the weather is much cooler, so my lapidary work will be trailing off. All the equipment is in the garage and it gets pretty cold in there this time of year.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Monday, 15 October 2012

I did not check the rock tumbler at all on Saturday. I waited until Sunday morning. I discovered that the belt that drives the barrels had broken. Luckily, it comes with a spare belt, so I installed the spare. I also dumped and cleaned up the barrel I had scraps being polished in, and I changed over the fire agate barrel to medium grit. So now I only have one barrel running. I hope that will place less strain on the belt.


 

We had the general session of the North Idaho Linux Users Group on Saturday. We discussed what we should present as topics for the upcoming meetings. We have a pretty good list covering many different topics. I will post the list on the NILUG web site as soon as I get it from the person who recorded it.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Friday, 12 October 2012

I managed to put the garage door back on track, so it could be closed. The lowest section of the door still needs to be straightened out so it will work smoothly.


 

I bit the bullet yesterday and bought a Roku 2 XD. That tiny box (fits in my hand) streams stuff from your local network and from the Internet to your television. I have subscribed to a pack of free streaming sites and have watched a couple of movies with it. It works really well. I am going to try it with local content today. It's an excellent way to interface your TV to the Internet.


 

I checked the rock tumbler barrels to see how they were doing. The scraps barrel is on polish and it needs more time. The fire agate barrel is on coarse grit and it also needs more time. I can see some excellent fire in some of those agates, but some of the white matrix needs to be removed.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software

 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

I filled my empty tumbler barrel with rough fire agate and coarse grit and it has been working away for a day now. I have not touched or opened the other barrel, where my scraps are being polished. I will look at both barrels today.

I went through some other fire agate I have and found two pieces that I thought might turn out well as cabachons. I ground on them both. One was a loser, so I tossed it back in the bucket. The other stone was excellent. It has almost as much fire as my ring. I polished it up and it looks pretty good.


 

Yesterday when I was putting the tractor in the garage, I screwed up the pulldown garage door. It was not pushed all the way up, and I hit it with the roll bar of the tractor. I will spend part of my day today fixing the damage, if I can.


 

Silly sign of the day:


 

Free/Open Source Software