Friday, July 29, 2016

East Dayton Meat

It's summertime and that means grilling steaks out on the patio.  I get mine at East Dayton Meat where they sell whole New York steaks (and much more), trim and cut them to my specification (3/4") and vacuum seal them, two per pack, in heavy plastic, which allows them to avoid freezer burn.  Prices vary week to week, but the $4.59 per pound I paid during their last weekly special for a 14.63 pound monster was a great deal.

Thursday, July 28, 2016 Via Your Library has series of high-quality lessons on a range of topics. Some examples include:

  • Becoming a Songwriter
  • Become a Manager
  • Become a Graphic Designer
  • Become a Java Programmer
  • Become a Web Designer

And you can get all of this for free (I love free) if you're a member of the Dayton Metro Library, like I am. It may also be available through your favorite local library.

I'm currently watching the Neo4J series to learn about Graph Databases.  Very well done.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hiding the Gas Meter

When houses in my neighborhood were built (circa 1958) the geniuses decided to place the gas meters near the center of the backyards, right around where third base would be. To top that, some former owner of my house built a brick fireplace right in front of it.  Gas and fire, what an interesting combination.

By the time I moved in that fireplace was in sad shape, so brick by brick I took it apart, broke up the steel-reinforced concrete pad it was sitting on, and hauled all 3,000 pounds of it to the local dump.  I then moved some sod around to make it horizontal to the house and planted grasses and hostas.  What was an eyesore is now a thing of beauty and it hides the gas meter quite nicely.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Android Custom Camera Settings

I love using High Dynamic Range (HDR) to take pictures, particularly where there is a combination of bright and low lights, for example, a sunset.  But every time I launched my Camera app I had to select HDR, which is annoying.  Then I ran across the "Save custom camera" option.  Just set all your camera settings the way you want it, then tap that option and give it a name (I called mine "HDR"). Since the Camera app launches to the last setting used, this effectively keeps HDR turned on for me.

This link has setup instructions for my HTC One M8, but is probably very similar to most Android phones.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Internet Speed Test

Google is rolling out its own Internet speed test tool in conjunction with Measurement Lab.  All it takes is the following Google search and clicking the "RUN SPEED TEST" button.  The following result is from my home Internet connection from Charter Spectrum (was Time Warner).

Friday, July 22, 2016

Mexican Rice

Took a lot of chopping to make this dish, but it was worth the result.  Hot and spicy, it was a great side dish to our Mexican chicken sliders.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Amazon Locker

A little skittish to leave your expensive Amazon order on your front door step?  Maybe want to keep that Christmas present a little more secretive?  If you're lucky enough to have an Amazon Locker, a secure, self-service delivery option, near you, it's your lucky day.  And it comes at no extra cost. That's sort of like free (I love free).

The one pictured below, named Judy, is located at the Speedway gas station across from the Dayton Mall on State Route 741, only one of two in the greater Dayton, Ohio area.  And a mile from work. Sweetness.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Great Escape Dayton

These games are popping up all around and Dayton is no exception.  Great Escape Dayton has three different games, each lasting one hour, where you try to decipher clues leading to your escape.  Looks like a blast for a company outing or a family adventure. The price for the escape games is $26 plus tax, per person.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Calculating Windows Disk Usage

WinDirStat ( is my favorite graphical tool for analyzing a disk drive when it gets full, but how do I know one is getting full?  The little snippet of code below uses the "Windows Management Instrumentation Command-line" (WMIC) to find the size and free space on a disk (C: in this example), then manipulate the result into the drive's size, used space, free space, and most importantly, the percentage in use.  

For example, you can use this to create a scheduled daily job that will send you an email if the percentage rises above 80%, giving you plenty of time to investigate before it becomes a real problem.

for /f "usebackq delims== tokens=2" %%x in (`wmic logicaldisk where "DeviceID='C:'" get FreeSpace /format:value`) do set FreeSpace=%%x

for /f "usebackq delims== tokens=2" %%x in (`wmic logicaldisk where "DeviceID='C:'" get Size /format:value`) do set Size=%%x

set FreeMB=%FreeSpace:~0,-6%
set SizeMB=%Size:~0,-6%
set /a UsedMB=SizeMB-FreeMB
set /a Percentage=100 * UsedMB / SizeMB

Monday, July 18, 2016


In replacing a toilet seat last weekend I found this solution to the ancient problem of keeping the seat from sliding around.  The regular solution holds the seat in place by applying sufficient vertical force to keep the bolt, which is smaller than the holes in the toilet, from moving horizontally. Lose that force and the seat slides.

The STA-TITE solution solves this by using the little fins pointed to by the red arrow.  The diameter of the fins is slightly larger than the hole, but get compressed as the nut (blue arrow) is turned with a wrench.  The result is a tight fit that eliminates the need for that large amount of vertical force.  And to avoid over-tightening, the bottom part of the nut breaks off when the right amount of force is reached.

I really appreciate a well-designed product that eliminates problems that have been around for years.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Dave's Dog Sauce

A local Dayton favorite, Dave's Dawg Sauce is tasty, and spicy, addition to your summer hot dog.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Don't Let Airline Miles Expire

I was a month away from having the almost 10,000 miles in my American frequent flyer account expire. Instead of just letting that happen, I donated them to the "Miles for All Who Serve" charity, one of three choices they provide.  Other airlines offer similar donation programs.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

TP-Link Smart Plug

Snagged this Wi-Fi Smart Plug during yesterday's Amazon Prime Day at half-price by ordering it using my Amazon Echo.  Besides being voice-controlled by the Echo, the companion Kasa app can be used to control the plug, for example, scheduling it to power on and off at certain times of the day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


BLAT is one of my favorite sandwiches (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Tomato - on toast, please).

BLAT.exe is a free (I love free) program that sends emails, a handy tool to have when creating reports on servers, for example, a daily report that shows current disk utilization or errors found in a log file. There are a number of options, but the five below are the ones I most frequently use.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Bending A Hinge Pin

This bathroom door would not stay open, caused by it not being 100% square to level (what is in a late-1950's house).  But the solution was ever so simple.  Just put a small bend in one of the hinge pins, which adds just enough friction to keep the door in place.

A big shout-out to my brother-in-law Albert for this tip!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Hattie B's Hot Chicken

Nashville is famous for hot chicken, so I gave a run at it.  Deep-fried, dipped and dredged chicken breasts basted with a cayenne pepper-based coating applied just before serving.  Bring a big glass of water and don't touch your eyes 'til morning!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Garage Tool Organization

Part of last weekend's set of projects was better organizing the tools in the garage.  I reduced the space used from 8 feet to 4 feet and installed angle brackets to hold the tools, replacing old nails. I angled the brackets for the rakes at 45 degrees for a more secure fit.  But the best part was being able to safely store the hoes by drilling holes in the handles, threading a leather shoe string through them and tying a square knot to make a loop.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Roku 4

The latest addition to my streaming portfolio.  Combined with a TP_Link 802.11ac wireless router, I'm slowly building towards an UltraHD TV purchase, but their prices need to fall another 30-40%.