11 December, 2017

Looking Back

One of the problems of getting old is becoming obsolete. Not me, of course. It's my technology.

The Old Photo Box
I was rooting around in one of our boxes of photos Dianna and I have. It's this one on the left. You know the box. Everyone has had one at one time or another, full of photos that you intended to put into albums. Somehow, the contents of that box just grew and grew, until it became too daunting to even consider.

Anyway, over the years, and various glitches with computers, hard drive crashes, lost files, etc., I realized I had lost a sizeable collection of vacation photos. I had captured most of the ones I was looking for on little 'mini' CDs, that held around 120Mb of data. They were the hot thing at the time.
Just Like My Mavica
I had purchased a brand new Sony Mavica camera for the vacation specifically so I could capture a lot of photos in very little space. Of course, within a year, it was displaced by something smaller, faster, more convenient and so on.

Anyway, I knew I had saved those mini CDs, so I was fairly sure I could replace the lost photos off the CDs.

So, I was rooting around in the box, looking for the CDs when I came upon this stack of 3.5" floppies. These are from the same trip the CDs are supposed to cover.

I don't remember taking any photos with a film camera on that trip. I must have because getting a floppy disk back instead of prints was the new thing, and here they are.

Photos Trapped By Obsolescence
I'm hoping to be able to find someone in the local Corozal area who is either still using floppies in their PC or that has an external floppy drive so that I can capture these long lost gems.

Oh, before I forget. That gold-colored CD in the background. That too has photos.from that same trip. Now, what's weird is that around that time, I did have a Macintosh computer, an SE-30. But it only used Mac 3.5" floppies, never had the capability of using mini or regular-sized CDs. I'd like to recover these photos as well.

That's probably going to be easier than recovering the photos off the floppies. Anyway, the search is on.

10 December, 2017

Brrrrr... Baby, It's Cold Outside

Nothing like waking up and having to chip ice out of your sink so you can make coffee.

Well, Okay, maybe it isn't that cold out. Still, when you're used to eighty- to ninety-degree Fahrenheit nighttime temperatures, with humidity percentages in the mid to upper eighties, you have to admit that our low last night (as reported by Winjama Weather) was 55℉.

Without the luxury of central heating, or even anything other than a kitchen stove to heat your house, not to mention little to no insulation in the structure, and damn few winter clothes or even a blanket to choose from, 55℉ is going to be cold.

According to meticulous records maintained on one blog entry (http://www.winjama.net/2010/12/its-all-my-fault.html), our low-temperature record for Corozal happened on 27 December 2010, when it got all the way down to 51.6℉.

That's cold enough, that when you walk the doggies, you've got your long pants on (assuming you still own some), socks (which feel really weird), a toque (knit cap) pulled low over your ears, and a pair of knitted gloves on, and you're still cold. You can see your breath as you're walking, there's steam rising from the waters of the bay, and you can feel your breath condensing onto your mustache and beard. Did I mention that it was cold?

Thanks to Don Squire for reminding me in a FaceBook post this morning, that our coconut oil has frozen too. It's now about the consistency of marshmallow stuff that comes in a jar.

05 December, 2017

So, What's Broken Now?

An old saying, that seems to fit, even if it really doesn't say anything at all. 'If it isn't one thing, it's seven other things,' and 'It just goes to show you.'

Which leads directly to today's topic. What's the latest thing to go kerflooey around Casa Winjama?

It all started most recently with the gate remote, the little hand-held device that makes the front gate open or close - one at a time, of course. Thank you very much.
This One Takes the 27A

I gave Elsie and Alan a key ring with the Mennonite house key on it and a remote gizmo for the gate. Of course, when I tried it, it didn't work. I naturally assumed it was the battery. That was mistake number one.

I hot-footed it down to Photo Alex, downtown. One of the few places around that seems to never have counterfeit batteries. Of course, the remote doesn't take a standard sized battery. It takes an A27 battery. There's D, C, AA, AAA, 23A, 27A, and a whole host of other size designations, all for batteries that look like regular tallish, round batteries. There's also the flat ones that go in computers, and all sorts of other things as well. I'm concerned here with the 23A and 27A sizes.
And This Takes the 23A

The 23A is smaller than an AAA battery by about half and is about the same diameter. The 27A is even smaller - about one-third the size of a 23A. If you're really interested in learning more than you knew existed about batteries, go look it up on Wikipedia.

The interesting thing for the 23A and 27A is that at Photo Alex, they cost the same. Ten dollars Belize per battery.

Back on course here. I purchased a 27A. Returned to Casa Winjama and installed the 27A into their remote. Then I went to try it out on the gate. Nothing happened. Well, that's not true, actually. What did happened was that I managed to wipe the gate motor motherboard clean as far as keeping track of what remotes it worked with. This meant that now, the gate wouldn't open or close for any remote that we had. Must be one of those undocumented features you read about.

I took the remote to Capital Factory up on Santa Rita Hill. They're the vendors for the Chinese gate motors. Mr. Chang, the proprietor, tried out the remote, checked it's innards and told me it was defunct. Luckily, he had a spare remote that operated on the frequency my gate motor uses. If I need new remotes in the future, I'll have to replace the motherboard and all of the remotes we use (we have four) as they all operate on a different frequency now.

The new replacement remote cost $75.00 BZD. Not cheap for something so small. Add in the other three remotes and a new motherboard, and you're potentially talking real money.

With the new remote in hand, I came back and tried it on the gate. No go. So, I had to call the gate motor (and power roll-up door) technician, Aaron, to come take a look. Eventually, he took the remotes and the motor and housing to troubleshoot them.

Turns out, the bad remote had 'frozen' the board so that nothing worked. He was able to fix it, so I was able to dodge the bullet of replacing remotes and all that.

Now, the gate worked fine. Oh, yes. That repair bill? Only came to $25.00 BZD. Such a deal. I was happy.

That was the first of the most recent things that went... What was the word? Oh, yes. Kerflooey. Next up was the main pool pump. A few days ago, when I was just finishing getting the solar heater motor working, I noticed the main pump sounded, um, not normal. I shut it down and took it out to the patio bench for a look-see.

I've become expert at opening up the pump, which I did again. The source of the noise quickly became apparent. the impeller (the thing that actually pushes water at high speed) had sheared itself from the motor shaft. When the impeller began to freewheel, it started to rub against the diffuser. The diffuser looks a lot like the impeller, but it simply fits over the impeller and helps with the pumping action. In short, I don't know what it does really, other than that it's important to have it not rubbing and thus self-destructing against the impeller.

I quickly went online and found a place, In the Swim, Discount Pool Supplies, to order the replacement parts and other fittings that go with those parts. I had checked with Island Pool Supply in San Pedro. They didn't carry them and it would take at least six weeks to get the parts in.

In the Swim had the parts in and at a significant savings. I hope to get the parts in through You Have Mail, sometime in the next two weeks. Then we'll have the pump back up and functioning.
Impeller (left) and Diffuser

Our algae problem in the pool (which I've written about before, or if I didn't, I meant to) seems to have solved itself. This was in part, both caused and helped by the pool pump. Caused, because, when the pump case was broken, it couldn't run for a couple of weeks, which exacerbated an algal bloom in the pool. Then when that got fixed, having the pump running again, helped in great measure to solve the algae problem.

But, now, because of the sheared impeller, the pump is non-functional again. Minus the algae problem.

And now, the latest thing. The Daewoo Microwave quit working just as I was nuking some potatoes for a nice pork stew that I was preparing.
Microwave in the Kitchen

The next day and fearing the worst, I was fully prepared to go to Courts and buy a new nukerator (microwave). But first, I thought it was worthwhile to take it to the electrical repair shop up behind the Mary Hill School.
Electronics Repair Specialists

These guys are near-geniuses in what they can repair.
Inside the Shop
About five minutes after I got back home from taking the microwave up there, they called to tell me it was all fixed. Turns out it was the capacitor that fried itself. Fifty bucks Belize, and I was back in the nukerating business.

Y'know, I just had to mention here, that pretty much everything that has broken down here, has been repairable, and was repaired. Most of the stuff, if this same thing had happened in the States, probably would have been a matter of toss it and buy a new one. I think I much prefer the fix it and use it idea. Just a thought. We're doing our bit to lessen our carbon footprint, I think.