The Joys of Home Ownership, Part 2163  

A while back, I had an issue with humidity in my basement, which lead to me getting a dehumidifier and running it 24x7x365. For a while that meant walking into the basement, grabbing a bucket, carrying it outside (or upstairs to a sink) to empty it.

After doing that for a couple of weeks, I invested in a condensate pump and some tubing. Quite handily, I had an old dryer vent in the basement that I had plugged with insulate. I simply ran the tubing through it, down the side of my house, and my dehumidifier could helpfully remove excess moisture, dump it into the condensate pump, which would periodically shoot it out through the tubing out to the back of my house to drain.

That worked nicely for about two years until last week. All of a sudden, the condensate pump couldn’t clear the water out, and would just run forever.

Not good.

It’s been incredibly cold (which should have been the first clue, but I’m a bit dense), which means it’s not been humid, so while I investigated, I figured I could get away with just draining into a bucket for a little bit.

I could get a snake up into the tube without a problem, but when I ran water up, I could see that it was eventually getting blocked, though I couldn’t tell by what. My hypothesis was that it was&emdash;scientifically&emdash;“gunk” that had collected in the tube. I tried running a few things through (washer fluid, vinegar), but no go. I figured I’d have to wait until the spring to be able to remove the tube which was now under a couple of feet of snow and then either replace it or clean out the obstruction.

That is, of course, until our multi-week cold spell broke with three days of over 50 degrees. And, of course, the tube was no longer blocked.

The cold spell, probably combined with some “gunk”, had lead to the tube being blocked, and either ice or air trapped behind the ice prevented the condensate pump from clearing out the water. When the unseasonably warm weather melted all of our snow in three days, it also melted the obstruction. Things went back to normal.

Until last night, when the temperature dropped again and things froze again. At least now I know what is going on. With the snow melted, I should be able to find the obstruction, thaw it, clear it out, and get the pump running consistently.

There are certainly better solutions to this, like an actual drain in my basement, but this was a $40 solution that has lasted over 2 years, and if I’m a bit smarter, probably could last 5 more.

I ❤️ This Picture  

My boys, at 4.5 months. Wearing their Hamilton onesies.

A post shared by Katie Toohil (@ktwalks) on

Warning About Decluttr  

Over the summer, when I had some down time, pre-babies, I was doing some cleaning and used a service called Decluttr to sell off some older hardware (an old Macbook and an Airport Extreme). These were really old hardware that no one would take, so it was this or find a recycler. I figured the $10 bucks I’d make from Decluttr would be worth it.

When I got the new iPhone X, I checked out Decluttr to sell back my iPhone 6S. They made a really good offer (about 50% more than any one else), and my previous experience had been good enough, so I decided to go with them.

Normal shipping, device gets to them. Then they tell me its been flagged and they can’t take it. I follow up (takes nearly a day to get a response). They use some service called CheckMend, which seems to be a service used by some cell companies (which would presumably include AT&T, since they’re my provider) to ensure you don’t sell a phone before you’ve paid them for it. The phone has been flagged—they cannot accept it, legally.

That’s all fine. I pay the $1 to get my report (which, honestly, should be free since it’s my phone, but whatever) and I ask their support and they confirm my suspicion: AT&T uses them, the flag on my phone is just a flag that says it was being tracked at some point, and it should be ignored.

I reply to Decluttr with that info, with the info from AT&T that my phone was fully paid off, and request that we finish our business. They reply back that the flag still exists (even though CheckMend says to ignore it), but they can offer me half price for the phone.

Well, if that doesn’t smell like a scam.

Clearly, they deal with enough phones to have seen that AT&T puts this check on phones. And they’ve dealt with CheckMend enough to know that the flag on my device was one that’s put on every phone that’s leased (which is likely the vast majority). But, my guess is that Decluttr leverages this situation to get devices for less than they offered. Many people probably don’t have the time or energy to hunt down why this “flag” was put on the device. So they take the 50% offer and Decluttr gets to advertise a high sale price, but not actually pay it out.

In the end, I got my phone back and went with Gazelle. I will say Decluttr was upstanding in shipping my phone back to me.

That’s not enough to keep me as a customer. I won’t be using Decluttr again. I tried to find contact info for anyone at Decluttr (or their parent company), but you get forced into their support team. Should someone at Decluttr see this and want to ask me about it, feel free.

First Day Back at Work  

Today’s the first day really back at work (full day in the office) since the kiddos were born. It’s bittersweet, as it’s been awesome to see them grow up over the last four months, and I’m dreading what I’ll miss. But I’ll still see them a ton (they seem to be morning people, like me). And, on the positive side, I’ve made it through three albums that I’d been meaning to listen to.

Still, I’m looking forward to seeing them when I get home.

Painting with Excel  

Saw this link on Daring Fireball. If you want a nice, pleasant way to start off 2018, take a look at this video.

On 2017  

2017 is going to go down as a year where we learned the worst about a lot of people. But, in that, huge communities found their strength and brought out the best in each other. And that looks to be leading to a brighter 2018, and hopefully, a brighter future in general.

I care a lot more about the future now, as 2017 brought our munchkins into the picture. My job is to raise them to be the type of people who stand up in the face of what happened in 2017 and make sure that they are there to make the next 50 years better.

Small Posts and Micro.blog  

I’ve been following Manton Reece’s Micro.blog concept for a while, but just finally got around to setting up an account. Right now, I’m just feeding the content from here over to there, while I get my feet wet.

But, the concept of owning my own content is something I do feel strongly about, and Twitter’s inability to rid themselves of the worst actors on their platform (racists, misogynists, serial harrassers) has lead me to post much less there.

So I’m going to start playing around with doing smaller posts here. I may eventually treat them differently, but for now, they’ll just be small posts. Micro.blog’s have the content of title-less posts. I’m not 100% sure what will happen, but we’ll find out together.

Golf Story  

Golf Story is sort of the perfect Switch game. It’s like an old-school Zelda golf game, with a ridiculous story, fun play mechanics, and it’s a perfect game to pick up and play on the go in little 5 minute increments.

Quick AirPods Review  

I was excited to get a pair of Apple AirPods for Christmas from my wife and the little guys. I go through bluetooth headphones pretty rapidly since I’ve been running more (and in more inclement weather), and with the little guys often in my arms while I’m moving around, the corded headphones end up being a nuisance. Plus, I’ll be commuting to my new office via foot and subway, so a good set of headphones are going to be great.

As pure headphones, the AirPods are really nice. They fit my ears well. I’ve run with them and they didn’t move a bit. I guess there’s it’s true that it was the cord that made them fall out of your ears (especially when the cord gets caught on a door handle or cabinet). They have good sound—better sound than normal Apple EarPods to me. The microphone works pretty well, in most cases.

As Apple devices, they have a bunch of nice little features. The pairing could not be better. You pop open the little charge case, hold it near your phone, and click a button. That’s it. And, once it’s paired, they are then paired with your other devices via iCloud. Right now, I’m watching Die Hard (it’s a Christmas movie!) while the little guys nap. I never paired with my Apple TV; the AirPods automatically paired over iCloud.

Another nice feature is that the AirPods know when you’ve only got one in, and they route both channels of audio to the bud that’s in your ear. That’s really nice, if you want to keep one ear open to listen for crying babies, or want to have a podcast going in the background while you make dinner. When you’re ready to put the other bud in, the audio updates.

Like I mentioned before, the microphone (and Siri) work pretty well. There’s a couple of problems, though. First, with the weather being so cold here, my AirPods end up under my hat. Even with the bone conduction, I’ve found that Siri ends up somewhat unusable being muffled through a hat. The other thing, and this is more of an iOS issue, is that the security settings of iOS on the iPhone X default to hiding notifications unless the screen is unlocked. It’s a feature I like, until I’m using the phone with Siri when out and about. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting a text message, asking Siri about it (because it’s 10 degrees and you don’t want to take your phone out) and having Siri say you have to unlock your phone. You can solve this by letting iOS show your text messages on your lock screen, but then that defeats the security benefit. It’d be nice for Apple to give you the option of playing info via Siri, maybe just to bluetooth devices or just over headphones.

Another Siri-related issue, though one that’s really a hardware issue, is the lack of volume control. I’m a perpetual fiddler with the volume since I’ve got a lot of music that was ripped years ago and is quieter than the stuff that’s out now. Mostly, I’ve just given up fiddling with the volume unless I can physically reach my phone, since Siri’s volume control is passable at best. First, I’m not always somewhere I can ask Siri to change my volume. But, more, I’ve found asking Siri to increase the volume by 10 or 20% often leads to Siri setting the volume to 10 or 20%, which is not super helpful.

All in all, they’re really nice. The good far outweighs the bad. I use them all the time, and expect I’ll use them non-stop when commuting back and forth to work, and when I’m running in the morning. Paired with another set of headphones for times when you need a cord (like on a plane), they’re phenomenal (and I expect planes will, in the next 5-10 years, support bluetooth for the infotainment system).

Top 10 Songs of 2017  

My normal top 10 list of my favorite songs of the year will happen, but won’t happen probably until early 2018. With the arrival of the kiddos and working from home for their first few months, I’ve had very little time to listen to new music. The list of stuff I have to listen to has just kept growing. I expect I’ll crank through a bunch of it in January as I’ll be back at work, and with a commute on the T plus time in the office, I’ll have a lot more time to check out the music I’ve set aside.

Early thoughts on what might be on the list:

  • Only Songs - The Wild Reeds
  • Something off of Spoon’s Hot Thoughts (there’s 3 or 4 songs I dig)
  • Maybe something by Fleet Foxes
  • Maybe I’m Not Running Away by Feist
  • Possibly Colour of Water by Rose Elinor Dougall
  • Witness - Benjamin Booker
  • Almost definitely something from the Fast Romantics (probably Why We Fight or Everybody’s Trying to Steal Your Heart)
  • Die Young or Radio by Sylvan Esso
  • Something by Kendrick Lamar (DUCKWORTH? maybe)
  • Definitely something from The New Pornographers (as I loved that album)

And then, on my list of stuff to listen to:

  • Weezer’s new album (I’ve been through it once. I don’t think it’ll make the list, but I need another listen)
  • Destroyer’s Ken
  • Japanese Breakfast
  • Cults
  • Alvvays (can almost guarantee one track will make my list – I’ve loved what I’ve heard)
  • Jay-z
  • Big Thief
  • Emily Haines

There’s other stuff, too.

Anyway, if you’ve got recommendations, send them my way, and I’ll try to have a list by the end of January.