Amazon Irritation A4

Why oh why does my Amazon search for A4 paper return lots of entries for US Letter sized paper?
Yes, there’s some A4 listings mixed in. But for what’s sake, if I wanted US Letter I’d look for it.

There are times when a suggestion for similar product is welcome. A case like this, when searching for a niche item and being offered the normal, is not one of them.

Play well with others

The iPhones of 2016 and Google Pixel phones of 2018 do not have a headphone jack. Boo! Hiss!

In 2001 or so, this type of headphone jack saved me. Read on:

In Praise of Standards

I’m going to convert some cassette tapes and vinyl albums I have into digital format.

Any warnings or recommendations from someone who has been there and done it? The software I’m going to try first is referenced in Linux Music And Sound. (a good book then, it’s now out of print and out of date.) I still need to find out what the differences between “line in” and “microphone in” are and what the differences (besides stated device attachment) are between the two outputs.

Part of the motivation for this was a compilation tape sent to me by a friend. My ghetto blaster now has non-functional (ok, broken) speakers and it is the only cassette deck in the house. Before going to my car and driving around to listen to the tape I decided to try and pipe from the blaster into my PC and out. It worked. It worked even though I was using a computer sound system with components manufactured in 2000, a ghetto blaster from ~1983 and a stereo receiver/amplifier from the mid-70s. Here’s the whole

Tape from friend -> ghetto blaster -> line in on SB128PCI card -> mixing software on PC -> 70s era receiver -> speakers -> ears -> enjoyment.

All the connecting wiring was done with mini din plugs. Without the standards in the audio world, I would have never been able to plug it all together and have it work. With the standards, I was able to link together physical devices that shared nothing except a common interface, the mini din stereo jack.

PCs were unknown when the receiver was designed and built and not yet a consumer item when the ghetto blaster was built. When the PC was built they certainly weren’t thinking about compatibility with 25-year-old consumer analog audio equipment. It still worked. And worked well.

FootNote: It has been pointed out that they are no longer called ghetto blasters. That may be, but when this twin cassette desk, 4 band radio, amp, equalizer, and speakers were manufactured they were called ghetto blasters. I feel that using the slang for the box from the time it was made is fitting.


GOP Replacement Plan

Think of our ACA health care system as a bridge. It enables people to travel from the mainland of life to the island of health care.

For seven years the GOP has criticized the ACA bridge. “It costs too much to maintain. It doesn’t do this or that. We will replace with an improved bridge.”

In the seven years they did not engineer a stronger replacement. They did not gather supplies to build a replacement. What they did do, incessantly, was criticize the existing, working bridge that millions depend on. In the form of Graham-Cassidy they will vote on removing the bridge people are using. They do so with no plans or materials for a replacement bridge. Millions will lose this lifeline of a benefit.

They will do this because they’ve been saying they will for seven years and somehow feel they must. It is more important to the GOP to win a vote than to continue protecting millions of Americans. It is more important to them to tear down a working bridge. They had years to prepare an improvement. Now all they have for a replacement is making a point about political power.

Making that point will certainly lead to the deaths of thousands and impoverish millions as the bridge they depend on is demolished.

Why do they not know?

Look at something on Amazon. See ads for the item in many other places. This is annoying if you went ahead and bought it.

Compare: subscribe the to email announcement list somewhere. Do they do something so the website is aware you’re a subscriber? No. You get the annoying sign-up pop up all the time.

Why don’t websites that have an affiliated email list put out a cookie to track your subscription and not offer you the list signup? This is especially annoying when the pop up is full screen cover the content.

This is an annoyance. Not quite as annoying as sites so laden with ads you can’t read the content. Why don’t those folks know if you can’t read the content you won’t return to read the ads?

Whose Holiday?

July 4th is a pretty big holiday in the USA. If a job doesn’t involve working with customers its workers probably have the day off. But why not retail too? Who really needs to buy something on the 4th?

After dropping a relative at the airport on the 4th of July we thought about swinging by the Costco close to the airport. Costco employees will be enjoying (or so we hope) the 4th with the day off. The 4th is one of seven holiday days that Costco closes each year. Go Costco!

What about other major retailers? Ikea only closes for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter Sunday. Walmart only closes for Christmas. On Easter Sunday, New Years Day, and Thanksgiving they’re open with limited hours. Home Depot only closes for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Their parking lot was pretty full at 10:00. Not so the Michaels Arts and Crafts next door. Employees outnumbered customers about four to one.

When checking to see what businesses were open on what holidays a pattern emerged. If a business is only closed for the big two or three (Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving) its holiday hours page will provide a long list of holidays on which its open. For example:

New Year’s Day
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (MLK Day)
Valentine’s Day
Presidents Day
Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday
St. Patrick’s Day
Tax Day
Good Friday
Easter Sunday
Easter Monday
Cinco de Mayo
Mother’s Day
Memorial Day
Father’s Day
Independence Day (4th of July)
Labor Day
Columbus Day
Veterans Day
Black Friday
Christmas Eve
New Year’s Eve

Let’s get real. What business do you know that closes on Halloween? Cinco de Mayo? Mothers or Fathers Day? Valentines Day? Tax Day? Mardi Gras? Gee how nice for the fine business to be open on those holidays. Or is this just something to obscure they make people work on Labor Day, Memorial Day and other important holidays?

We’re going to hear a lot about this in a few months when retailers open for Black Friday and Thanksgiving. Not too consistent to make a fuss then and not today.

Banks and the government do a nice job on holidays. All the work excepting essential services close down for holidays with meaning.

Two disclaimers: I’m personally glad nice to have businesses remain open, like grocery stores. I spent a few years in my teens and twenties working for radio stations. More than one Thanksgiving dinner was eaten from a tray in the control room.