Author: Lisa

DigiBoil Saga – Conclusion, more or less

We’ve had a horrible time using the DigiBoil we ordered some four or five months ago. The temperature is way off. The manufacturer says there’s no calibration on the unit — and, if we want to be able to calibrate the unit, we should pay the money for a Brewzilla. A quote from their latest e-mail:

“The Digiboil is primarily designed (and marketed) for other purposes – we sell a great many for use with stills or as HLTs, typically. To that end, the granularity of temperature control of the Brewzilla is not typically needed for the Digiboil.”

In my opinion, that’s a little disingenuous. We ordered a DigiMash — a package to turn the DigiBoil into an all-in-one electric brewing system.

We were considering the iteration with a pump included

I’d totally believe it was originally designed as a HLT, accessories packages were put together to make it a brewing system but those accessories were discontinued because the thing doesn’t work well enough to be a brewing system. But my opinion is that it was certainly was marketed as something fully functional. And the extra couple hundred bucks for the Brewzilla got you more advanced features like step mashing.

The strangest thing is that the problem seems to be the controller — building up a NodeMCU-based controller would make something better than a Brewzilla (you can flash your own firmware if you want the logic to change — we got put off the Brewzilla because v3.1.1 units weren’t available in the US when we were looking to purchase something. The v3.1 logic started the timer when the elements kicked in. You’d have to buy an upgraded 3.1.1 board to get the new logic that starts the timer when the target temp is reached (and sixty minutes at 155 isn’t the same as sixty minutes spent going from 135 to 155 then holding at 155).

Browser How-To: Using the Developer Console

The developer console will show client-side errors. You can also use it to interact with data on a web page (like the approaches I’ve published to exporting data from Teams). To display the developer console, use Ctrl+Shift+i

When you first display the console, you may want to clear the existing output – it’s difficult to correlate the errors to discrete actions you’ve taken on the website. Once the console is clear, perform the action again and watch for errors as you perform each individual operation.

Clearing console output on Firefox:

Clearing console output on Chrome:


On stimulus means testing

Means testing is just as bad as offering a payroll tax cut. “Hi, family that made 100k in 2019, made 95k in 2020, but hasn’t had anyone employed since mid-December … you’re rich, so suck it!” sounds better than “Hi, family who made 100k in 2019, made 95k in 2020, but hasn’t had anyone employed since mid-December… you’re out of work, so suck it!”. But they’re both essentially the same statement.
I’d thought about including some sort of opt-out process. But if you don’t *need* the money, nothing’s stopping you from donating it to the local food bank / homeless shelter / etc either. Or saving it in case you get laid off three months from now (yes, I know “saving the stimulus money” … but what’s bad on a macro level isn’t always bad for the individual). So an opt-out infrastructure is a bit of theater that adds expense and delay (i.e. a Bad Idea).

On Privilege

I read an article highlighting the white privilege of Bernie attending the inaguration in a warm coat and warm mittens. This is a case where “privilege” means “recipient of general courtesy that should be extended to anyone”. Someone less “old white dude” shows up, they’re gonna get hassled over their attire. But I have trouble identifying the fact someone is able to wear warm, comfortable clothing to an event as the problem.
I’ve gone to operas, ballet performances, symphonies, plays, and Michelin rated restaurants wearing a warm coat and boots (carrying dress shoes in a waterproof handbag, not for the fashion statement as a “don’t trek muddy snow melt all over the joint” courtesy). The cloakroom attendant keeps my warm coat and bag of wintery boots. Is that privilege? Sure, in the same way that letting Bernie sit in the audience without haute couture displays his privilege. Do I need to be aware that I’m fortunate not to get hassled at the door? Sure. Do I need to be aware that I’m fortunate, when playing with my daughter in a park, to know the cop who cruises by to check on us really is just saying hi? Sure. But the *problem* is when some non-white non-dude human does the same thing, they should be treated the same way — anyone with a valid ticket should be cheerfully greeted like they belong there — because they *do* belong there.
Point out how privilege manifests itself, advocate for changes that extend such courtesy to everyone, and ensure you treat everyone equitably.

2021 Garden — Seed Starting

It’s almost time to start seeds for this year’s garden. I’ve got about two weeks to get some pots ready — we’ll get the peppers, asparagus, celery, and verbana started. There are a few herbs that we can start too — oregano, rosemary, and thyme. I’m not growing any eggplant this year.


Plant Indoor Sow Date Start Indoor Sow Date End Transplant Start Transplant End Direct Sow Start Direct Sow End Action Date
Bell Peppers 17-Feb 6-May 17-Feb
Celery 17-Feb 6-May 17-Feb
Oregano 17-Feb 29-Apr 17-Feb
Rosemary 17-Feb 6-May 17-Feb
Thyme 17-Feb 29-Apr 17-Feb
Asparagus 22-Feb 21-Mar 28-Mar 16-May 22-Feb
Eggplant 22-Feb 7-Mar 16-May 30-May 22-Feb
Verbana 22-Feb 21-Mar 16-May 30-May 30-May 22-Feb

FU Investing

It’s important to remember the difference between capitalization through offering shares and market value. Say I have a company that I’m going to take public. Forget all the real-world stuff that goes into an IPO — I put one million shares of my company out there with a target price of 10$ a share, and initial investors purchase all of the shares at my target price. I now have ten million bucks in exchange for the investor’s interest in my company. Now you want to buy a share of my company. I had a million shares and sold them all. You aren’t buying a share from *me*. You go to someone who owns shares in my company and offer to buy one. Well, they paid 10$ yesterday, so they’re not going to sell that share for ten bucks. You offer them 11$, though, and they say ‘sure’.

My company is doing well (“the fundamentals” are good), people anticipate I’m going to start offering dividends or I’m going to start using a new manufacturing technique and reduce cost by 10%. A lot of people want shares, so they start offering to pay 20$ for a share. And plenty of people who paid 10$ a share want to bank their profits, so there are shares available to buy. Even though my company shares are selling at 20$, which makes my market capitalization twenty million dollars, I only have ten million of that. The other ten million went as profit to investors who sold shares. Same when the stock price goes down — I’m not hitting sales targets, my planned IP filing doesn’t go through, etc and shares are down to 5$ … I still got that ten mil from my IPO; investors just own their share of my company with a value of 5 mil.

A company that isn’t doing well can still be worth millions on paper. This is where short selling comes in. Think about buggy manufacturers when automobiles became “a thing” — if they were publicly traded companies, you could have anticipated that the value of the stock would go down. You borrow a share of Lisa’s Buggy Company from someone — it’s worth 10$ today. You sell it and pocket the ten bucks. A month from now, you buy a share of Lisa’s Buggy Company for 3$ and give the repurchased share back. You’ve score 7$. Now, realistically you don’t just find someone who owns a share and borrow it from them. You ‘borrow’ the share from a brokerage. You pocked 9.50$ initially because you give the brokerage 0.50$ for letting you ‘borrow’ that share for a month (like interest when you borrow money).

If you borrow a 10$ share and are going to return it in a month, no one knows how much that’s going to cost you in a month. You’re hoping it’s less than 10$. But, in a case like GameStop, that 10$ share you borrowed is worth 320$. Brokerages hold what amounts to cash collateral to cover your short — because they don’t want to be out that 320$ share when you cannot afford to repurchase it. And, as the share value goes up, they may need more collateral to cover your short. At some point, you just don’t have any more cash to throw into collateral. You’re screwed (and have to repurchase those borrowed shares at whatever the price happens to be now). Or the broker doesn’t want to keep risking it — they call in their loaned share so they can sell it and keep the 320$.

Thing is? Having shares trading at a couple hundred bucks instead of a couple bucks doesn’t change the real trajectory of in-person retail sales of physical game media and equipment (i.e. the underlying logic that led investors to short GameStop in the first place). It doesn’t give GameStop half a billion dollars they can use to move into a new, more profitable, market space. AMC are an interesting, somewhat similar, case. AMC have, to a lesser extent, gone through the same thing as GameStop. Except they also happened to have planned to issue an additional fifty million (or so) shares of stock to raise money. Had the offering gone through when the stock was trading at 2$, they’d have only raised another 100 mill. Had they hit the 20$ a share price the stock peaked at, they’d have raised a billion. IIRC, they brought in a little over 300 million — enough to wipe out a bunch of debt and probably secure operations through the pandemic (if that means summer/autumn). And, I expect, there are a LOT of people who (once vaccinated) are really eager to go do *things* like overpay for popcorn while watching movie on a big screen. This FU investing to screw over massive shorts may have saved the company.


Zap2XML 503 Error

We’ve been using to pull TV listings into our MythTV installation for years. Yesterday, we noticed there wasn’t much scheduled to record. When I went to investigate it today, I found that there weren’t listings past Thursday. Running the zap2xml script manually, I see a bunch of 503 Backend unavailable errors. Checked the URL and, yeah, that’s a legit error.

So I had to quickly switch to a different source for listings. I found a Github project that generates the XML file we need. The same mythfilldatabase command (/usr/bin/mythfilldatabase –file –sourceid 2 –xmlfile /tmp/listings.xml) pulled in the data without error. And, now that there are programs listed, MythTV plans to record things again.

DigiBoil Saga

We ordered a DigiBoil (well, we really ordered a DigiMash, but it turns out that’s a DigiBoil with the mashing kit) in November. We’ve still not managed to brew beer. Our first unit looked like it got mangled in manufacture. I rather question KegLand’s quality control process — the two fermenters we purchased had the butterfly valve handles installed backwards. Easy enough to take a wrench and turn them around, but it’s an odd oversight. And upside down doesn’t work since the handle would turn up into the fermenter plastic and stop before being fully turned.

We got a replacement DigiBoil, We washed the unit, then dumped in a few gallons of water to test it out. No leaks – great. Turn on elements — all three work, also great. Water boiling … awesome, except the temp readout was 203 degrees F. I know the temp at which water boils, so the temp  reading was obviously wrong. We measured the resistance on both thermistors and found the original one read lower than the one on the replacement. And the resistance went down as the temperature warmed up … so possibly the original one was better. We swapped the thermistor from the dented up unit — and water boiled at 206 degrees. Scott tried contacting KegLand to see if there’s some calibration on the controller (sealed behind the big sticker with a logo … not something we’d want to pull apart on a whim), but it seemed like they blew him off. We got a third DigiBoil and it, too, either has a bad thermistor or a miscalibrated controller. This is getting silly. They cannot/will not send us a thermistor or provide details about calibrating the controller. That would be a lot less effort for everyone involved. Three out of three thermistors report different, significantly wrong, temperatures at boil.